KABUL -- The US Embassy in Kabul expressed concerns Tuesday (May 5) over claims that several Afghan migrants drowned after being forced into a river by Iranian border guards last week.
The Afghan government has launched an investigation into claims that the migrants drowned May 1 while illegally crossing into Iran from Herat Province.
"We share the concerns of the Afghan government, civil society, and people about reports of killings and abuse against Afghan migrants along the border with Iran," the embassy wrote on Twitter.
It expressed support for Kabul's decision to launch a probe into Iran.
"Iran's cruel treatment and abuse of Afghan migrants alleged in these reports is horrifying," outgoing US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells added on Twitter.
"Those found guilty of such abuse must be held accountable," she added.
The Iranian consulate in Herat has dismissed the reports.
An Afghan government official, who did not want to be named, said after the incident that seven migrants had died and 30 were missing, quoting survivors who returned to Herat.
A number of Afghans who survived the incident said that they were beaten by Iranian soldiers before being thrown into the river.
Victims of the drownings included children, they said.
There are between 1.5 million and 3 million Afghan refugees living and working in Iran, most of them as wage labourers on construction projects.
Tens of thousands returned to Afghanistan after the coronavirus outbreak, but as restrictions ease in badly hit Iran, many are again seeking work there.
Late on Monday (May 4), the Afghan Foreign Ministry urged Tehran to launch its own investigation and share the results with Kabul.
"The incident occurred on Afghanistan's soil and Iran's border patrol has denied anything related to this happened on our country's territory", said the Iranian Foreign Ministry.