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Iranian Forces Kill Kurdish Porter on Border Path to Iraq

Iran's security forces have shot and killed an Iranian Kurdish man in a mountainous border region where he was working as a porter to import goods from neighboring Iraq.

A family member of slain porter Asad Hassanzadeh told VOA Persian that the shooting happened Wednesday near the city of Piranshahr in northwestern Iran.

Another porter who said he was near Hassanzadeh at the time of the shooting shared a video of the aftermath with VOA Persian. He said Hassanzadeh was among a group of porters, known locally as kolbars, who were walking in the mountains along the Iran-Iraq border when Iranian security forces opened fire. The man said Hassanzadeh was killed and several other kolbars were wounded.

In the video, whose authenticity was confirmed by the family member, a group of men, some sobbing, carry Hassanzadeh's body up a mountain path to a jeep.

The family member sent VOA Persian an image of a memorial flier containing a photo of Hassanzadeh, along with details of memorial events scheduled for Thursday and Friday in the area. Hassanzadeh, who was about 40, was married and had several children.

There was no immediate word on the shooting of Hassanzadeh and the other kolbars in Iranian state media and what motivated it.

Iranian security forces began in December to block footpaths kolbars use to carry goods into Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan. Much of the local economy in Iran's predominantly Kurdish region relies on such trade. Residents have said the border blockade deprives them of imported products to sell in local stores, which have suffered from a lack of customers because of widespread poverty in the region.

Local Iranian officials have said authorities blockaded the border crossings at the request of Iraq to bring order to border trade and preserve security in border areas. Many residents have rejected that explanation because of what they see as Tehran's deep influence over Iraqi affairs.

Source: Voice of America


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