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Afghanistan/Iran: ICRC repatriates Iranian prisoners

21-10-1998 News Release 98/42

Twenty-six Iranian prisoners released in Kandahar by the Taliban were repatriated on 17 and 18 October. After ICRC delegates had interviewed them in private in order to ascertain that they wished to return to Iran, they were flown to Tehran aboard two aircraft, one made available by the ICRC and the other by the United Nations. The Iranians'release resulted from direct negotiations between United Nations special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and the supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar.

An ICRC plane had taken ten other Iranians, also held in Kandahar, back to Tehran on 12 October. Their release had been ordered by Mullah Omar to mark a visit to Afghanistan by a Palestinian delegation.

On 11 October the mortal remains of three Iranian diplomats were flown by ICRC aircraft from Mazar-i-Sharif to Mashad in Iran. The three men had been killed when Mazar-i-Sharif fell to the Taliban last August.

These transfers, all of which were carried out at the request of the parties, began on 11 September with the repatriation of the bodies of several Iranian diplomats and a journalist from Mazar-i-Sharif to Tehran. The operations bear witness to the confidence placed in the ICRC by the various parties concerned.