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Iran: Tehran Refuses UN Request To Take In Afghan Refugees

Tehran, 1 November 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Iran has rejected a United Nations request that it open its border to refugees from Afghanistan. UN refugee agency chief Ruud Lubbers said in Tehran that Iran had disagreed with his request that it unseal its eastern border to allow needy Afghan refugees to enter. Lubbers met yesterday with President Mohammad Khatami and other top officials.

Iran, which already hosts more than 2 million Afghan refugees, prefers that new refugees receive aid in Red Crescent camps set up on Afghan soil, in zones near the border.

Pakistan has also officially closed its border, but the UN says tens of thousands of Afghan refugees have been arriving in Pakistan. Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan have also officially closed their frontiers to new Afghan refugees.

U.S. warplanes today continued attacking Taliban positions in various parts of Afghanistan.

Reports say the planes hit the Kala Kata garrison in northern Takhar province -- 50 kilometers north of Kabul -- as well as a fuel and ammunition dump near opposition-controlled Bagram air base on the Kabul front.

Bombing attacks were also reported against Taliban positions near the Tajik-Afghan border.

Meanwhile, the Taliban say they last night repulsed an attack by Northern Alliance forces in a valley near Dara-i-Suf in Samangan province, south of the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

The Northern Alliance denies the claim, with spokesman Mohammad Ashraf Nadeem telling Agency France Press that their soldiers did not attack last night.

The U.S. says Taliban forces can expect more carpet bombing of their positions by B-52 bombers, which can carry large loads of bombs.

The U.S. believes the bombing has been putting heavy stress on the Taliban's military capabilities and has degraded the ability of Taliban forces to communicate with each other.