Eltaf Najafizada
January 16, 2011

Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) — Afghan protests over Iran’s month- long near blockade of cross-border fuel shipments spread to the western city of Herat, where hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the Iranian consulate and set fire to that country’s flags.

Traders were among those who took to the streets today, angered by fuel shortages and the resulting sharp increases in transport and food prices, Shafiq Behrozian, the spokesman for Herat province, said in a phone interview. “If Iran doesn’t allow the tankers to cross, people will continue to demonstrate,” he said. In similar outbursts last week in Kabul, protesters threw eggs and stones at the Iranian embassy, the independent, Kabul-based Pajhwok News Agency reported.

As many as 1,900 tankers have been unable for the past month to cross the Iranian-Afghan frontier since the government in Tehran said it was stopping shipments because U.S.-led forces were using the fuel to fight the Taliban. While Iran cooperated for a time with the U.S.-led coalition that ousted the Taliban following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, former U.S. President George W. Bush in 2002 branded Iran part of an “Axis of Evil” along with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and North Korea.

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