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Iran to seal eastern borders to check drugs

TEHRAN, July 12 (Reuters) - Iran has begun sealing its border with Afghanistan, the world's largest opium producer, in an attempt to stem the flow of drugs, the official IRNA news agency reported on Wednesday.

IRNA quoted Interior Minister Abdolvahed Mousavi-Lari as saying 100 km (62 miles) of the 725-km (453-mile) border with Afghanistan would be fenced with barbed wire and electronic devices would be installed along another 200-km (124-mile) stretch.

The rest is mostly mountainous rough terrain less suitable as a route for drug shipments.

``With the borders fully controlled, the residents will enjoy full tranquillity and security,'' the minister said during a visit to the border to launch the operation on Tuesday.

Iran is a major transit point for drug shipment from Afghanistan and Pakistan -- the so-called ``Golden Crescent'' -- to the lucrative markets of Europe and the oil-rich Gulf Arab states.

Iran's parliament recently approved a plan to spend $24.5 million to seal the border and fight drug-related crime in border regions, including numerous murders and kidnappings.

The fund will mainly be used to buy radar equipment and set up fortifications and watchtowers.

Drug trafficking has taken a heavy toll on Iranian society, leaving more than two million addicts among a population of 62 million.

According to official statistics, more than 170 police officers were killed in clashes with drug traffickers in the year ended in March.


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