Iran confirms consulate closed, diplomats out of Afghan city
TEHRAN, May 7 (AFP) - Iran has recalled its diplomats from the Afghan city of Herat and closed its consulate, which was attacked by protesters following a bomb blast in a mosque that killed an exiled Iranian scholar and nine others.
"All staff of our consulate-general were evacuated and have returned to Iran," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said Monday, confirming earlier reports from Afghanistan.
He said Iran was "extremely seriously" following developments in Herat and would press Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia to arrest those responsible for the attack on the consulate.
"It is standard procedure that we ask the Taliban to identify and the arrest those who attacked our Herat consulate on Friday," he said.
"We hold the Taliban responsible for the security of our offices and our diplomatic team in Afghanistan," Asefi said, underlining that the mosque attack and the attack on the consulate were "two different matters."
Exiled Iranian Sunni Muslim scholar Molavi Moussa Karimpour and another Iranian national were among 10 people killed in the explosion, according to officials in Herat.
Herat governor Khairullah Khairkhwa on Friday blamed Iranian "agents" of carrying out the mosque bombing and a statement from Afghanistan's Taliban regime in Kabul Saturday said Iranian "hardliners" were responsible.
Iran has denied any involvement in the blast. The exiled Karimpour was a prayer leader at a Sunni mosque in the Iranian border city of Mashhad which had been demolished by Iranian authorities in order to build a park, according to the Taliban.
Shiite Muslim Iran does not acknowledge the Sunni Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan. The Taliban is recognised diplomatically only by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
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