Monday, October 11, 2004

New Zealand Herald - Iraq frees 130 Iran prisoners, hundreds remain - TV

New Zealand Herald - Latest News: "Iraq frees 130 Iran prisoners, hundreds remain - TV

12.10.2004 11.34 am

TEHRAN - Iraq on Monday released 130 Iranians arrested for crossing the border illegally, but another 270 remain behind bars, Iran's top diplomat in Baghdad told state television.

Washington and some officials in Iraq's interim government have accused Iran of meddling in Iraq's affairs and allowing weapons and fighters to cross their long border. Iran denies this accusation.

Iranian Charge d'Affaires Hassan Qomi described the detainees as pilgrims who had tried to visit holy Shi'ite Muslim sites in Iraq without the proper documentation.

He said the 130 Iranians freed on Monday had all been held in the town of Kut. Another 71 were expected to be released in coming days. Before Monday's releases more than 400 Iranians were being held in various jails in Iraq, he added.

"In the next month we hope to solve the issue of Iranian pilgrims travelling to Iraq," Qomi said."

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