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Middle East

Border crossing with Iraq closed after pilgrim killings

Latest update : 2009-04-26

Iranian authorities have closed the Khosravi checkpoint on the border with Iraq in response to recent bombings in Baghdad and Diyala in which several Shia pilgrims, including many Iranians, were killed.

Reuters - Iran has closed a border crossing with Iraq for Iranians after many pilgrims from the Islamic Republic were killed in two bomb attacks in the neighbouring country, official media reported on Saturday.

On Thursday, most of the 57 people who were killed in a suicide bomb in the northeastern Iraqi province of Diyala were Iranians, who have flocked to Iraq's Shi'ite holy sites since Sunni Arab strongman Saddam Hussein was ousted in 2003.

The following day, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up near a Shi'ite Muslim shrine in Baghdad, killing 60 people, police said. Many of the dead and wounded were Iranian pilgrims.

"After ... bombings in Iraq and the martyrdom of a number of Iranian pilgrims, crossing the Khosravi border for Iranians has been banned until further notice," the official IRNA news agency said. State radio carried a similar report.

The Khosravi border crossing lies north-east of Baghdad. Iranian media did not say whether other border crossings were also affected.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hassan Qashqavi, on Friday condemned the attacks.

"Some are trying to weaken the deep historical and growing ties between the two nations of Iran and Iraq and to justify the illegitimate presence of foreigners with the continuation of insecurity in this country and in the region," he said.

Iranian officials have often said the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq is worsening the security situation there.

Date created : 2009-04-26