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Afghan Officials Say Woman Shot Dead By Iranian Forces

KABUL -- Afghan officials in the southwestern Nimruz Province say Iranian border guard forces shot dead an Afghan woman who was trying to cross into Iran, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

Afghan officials said the woman was trying to cross the border on October 26 with her four children in the Kang district of Nimruz. They said the woman did not have a passport or any of the other legal documents necessary to enter Iran and was not crossing at a checkpoint.

Officials at the Iranian Embassy in Kabul told RFE/RL they had no information about the incident and could not comment.

General Abdul Jabar Pordili, the Nimruz police chief, told RFE/RL on October 27 the incident was "heart-wrenching" news. "Unfortunately, the woman was trying to cross the border illegally. She was injured [by the gunfire] and died on the way to the hospital."

Pordili was critical of Iranian security forces. "No one, not in Afghanistan or anywhere around the world, has the right to take an innocent life."

Afghanistan and Iran share a 936-kilometer-long border.

Afghan refugees living in Iran often travel back and forth across the border at various unmonitored points to visit relatives. Some of the paths they travel are also used as transit routes for people smuggling weapons, drugs, or people.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported in June that there are more than 1 million Afghans officially registered in Iran as refugees.

There have been several reports of Iranian security forces beating and arresting "illegal immigrants" caught crossing the border.

Iranian authorities often excuse such actions by accusing Afghan immigrants of being involved in illegal activities, including drug and human trafficking.

According to the UNHCR, the poor security situation in Afghanistan along with drought, poverty, and high unemployment have led to a high number of Afghans seeking refuge in other countries.

RFE/RL reported earlier this year from western Afghanistan that Iranian security forces shot a 12-year-old girl who was injured and taken to a hospital. Six men were also reportedly killed after coming under gunfire from Iranian security forces several months ago.

The Afghan government and international refugee programs report that Iran has deported some 1 million illegal Afghan immigrants in the past three years.