Page last updated at 15:45 GMT, Thursday, 13 May 2010 16:45 UK

Afghans protest against 'refugee executions' in Iran

Afghan men burn a painting of Iranian President Mahmood Ahmedinejad during a protest outside the Iranian Consulate in Jalalabad
Protesters burned an effigy of Iranian President Mahmood Ahmedinejad

Thousands of Afghans have protested in the eastern city of Jalalabad against the alleged executions of a number of Afghan refugees in Iran.

Demonstrators rallied in front of the Iranian consulate, shouting slogans and throwing eggs.

This is the fifth and largest anti-Iran protest in Afghanistan in a fortnight.

Protesters and rights groups say Iran has executed 45 Afghans in recent weeks on drug smuggling charges. Tehran and Kabul officials put the number at six.

Between 4,000 and 5,000 Afghans have been arrested by the Iranian authorities and hundreds are reported to be on death row, activists say.

Iranian officials refuse to confirm how many Afghans are at risk of execution.

The treatment of Afghans in Iran has caused much concern in their home country.

So far three anti-Iran demonstrations have been held in Kabul and a fourth in the western city of Herat on the border with Iran.

Tehran has denied ill-treatment of Afghans and says the reports are a conspiracy to undermine the "historic ties" between the two countries.

"We think there are hidden hands behind these protests, it is not the work of an individual or a group," Tehran's envoy to Kabul Fada-Hossein Maleki told Iran's Press TV last week.

"It's a scenario created by certain embassies," he said.

"Some Western countries aren't happy about Iran-Afghanistan relations and are trying to undermine these ties but they will not succeed," the ambassador said.

Iran received millions of Afghan refugees during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the later civil war. In recent years it has deported many back to Afghanistan.

Reports from Kabul say Iran has expelled 80,000 Afghans in recent months, sending them back to Herat and Nimroz provinces.

Tehran opposed the Taliban regime toppled by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

It has since experienced a rise in drug use as easily-available heroin from Afghanistan flows across the border.

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