The US State Department on Tuesday called for an investigation into reports that in the western province of Herat 57 Afghan nationals who tried to enter Iran for work were arrested by the Iranian border security forces who tortured the Afghans and then allegedly threw some of them into a river--in which some died.
The incident is said to have occurred on Wednesday.
The US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells in a Twitter post called the incident as ‘horrific’.
“Iran's cruel treatment and abuse of Afghan migrants alleged in these reports is horrifying” and “We support calls for a thorough investigation,” tweeted Wells.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in a tweet responded to US Amb. Alice Wells: “Iran has strong ties with Afghanistan and leads the way to help Afghan leaders for inclusive government. What happened to Afghan nationals in Herat is tragic and unrelated to Iran, but US regime's allegation against Iran is a 'bitter joke'..."
The Afghan Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement said Afghanistan and Iran agree on a joint probe team to investigate the reports of mistreatment and in some cases "martyrdom" of Afghans in the border areas between the two countries.
Meanwhile, local officials in Herat have pledged to probe the incident. They warned that such a move will not go without a response if proved true.
Some residents in Herat on Tuesday called for the perpetrators to be arrested and to be served justice.
“They drown their Muslim brothers while we are in the holy month of Ramadan,” said a resident in Herat Nisar Ahmad Khairandesh.
“The criminals should be hanged,” said Halima Pajhwok, a resident in Herat.
“The Iranian government has committed a crime against humanity. It's against all international conventions and it has violated all international laws,” said Laal Gul Laal, the head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Organization.
“The incident that happened is very shocking,” said Zaman Sultani, a researcher at Amnesty International.
Footage received by TOLOnews shows local residents in the area recovering the dead bodies of those Afghans who were allegedly drowned by the Iranian security guards.
“The life of a single Afghan is precious to us more than your imagination, we will take necessary steps regarding this issue,” said Sayed Wahid Qatali, the governor of Herat.
On Saturday, officials at Herat district hospital confirmed that some of the dead bodies of the presumed victims were transferred to their hospital.