1998 killing of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan

The 1998 killing of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan refers to the siege of the Iranian consulate in Mazar-i-Sharif, in the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan during the Taliban and Northern Alliance battles of Mazar-i-Sharif. Initially the death of 8 Iranian diplomats was reported, but later two other diplomats and a journalist were also confirmed dead, bringing the total deaths to 11.[1] The killings of the diplomats is speculated to have been carried out by Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan.[2][3]

1998 killing of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan
LocationMazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan
DateAugust 8, 1998 (UTC+4:30)
TargetIranian diplomats


Before this incident, Iran was supportive of the Afghan Northern Alliance, and the city of Mazari Sharif was one of the headquarters of the alliance. It is reported that between May and July 1997 Abdul Malik Pahlawan executed thousands of Taliban prisoners as a revenge for the 1995 death of Abdul Ali Mazari. "He is widely believed to have been responsible for the brutal massacre of up to 3,000 Taliban prisoners after inviting them into Mazar-i-Sharif."[4] As a revenge, Taliban forces captured Mazar-i-Sharif and killed hundreds of Northern Alliance members, particularly members of the Hazara and Uzbek ethnic group as they were accused of being the ones who carried out the killings of Taliban prisoners.


On August 8, 1998, Taliban forces captured Mazar-i-Sharif. After this incident, 11 Iranian diplomats and a correspondent from Iran's state news agency (IRNA) were attacked at the Iranian consulate and subsequently disappeared. Unofficial reports from the city indicated that all these men were killed. Later it was confirmed that 8 of the Iranian diplomats and the IRNA correspondent were killed by the Taliban militia attacking the consulate. The Taliban spokesmen said the Iranians had been killed by renegade forces who had acted without orders.[5] The final death toll was confirmed later to be 11 according to Tehran Times.[1]


This incident caused a public furor in Iran and many observers were worried Iran would be involved in a military response to the attack. At the time, more than 70,000 Iranian troops were deployed along the Afghan border.[6][7] Mediation by the United Nations defused the situation and all the hostages were eventually released. Later in February 1999, Iran and Taliban held talks, but Iranian-Taliban relations did not improve.[8]

August 8 is named National Journalists' Day in Iran, in memory of Mahmoud Saremi, the IRNA correspondent killed in this attack.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Film on 1998 Iranian diplomats' murder in Mazar-i-Sharif premieres in Tehran". Tehran Times. August 25, 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  2. ^ Riedel, Bruce (2010). The Search for Al Qaeda: Its Leadership, Ideology, and Future (2nd Revised ed.). Brookings Institution. pp. 66–67. ISBN 978-0-8157-0451-5.
  3. ^ Gutman, Roy (2008). How We Missed the Story: Osama Bin Laden, the Taliban, and the Hijacking of Afghanistan. Institute of Peace Press. pp. 142. ISBN 978-1-60127-024-5.
  4. ^ "Afghan powerbrokers: Who's who". BBC News. November 19, 2001. Retrieved 2011-04-01.
  5. ^ Jehl, Douglas (1998-09-11). "Iran Holds Taliban Responsible for 9 Diplomats' Deaths". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  6. ^ Jehl, Douglas (1998-09-12). "For Death of Its Diplomats, Iran Vows Blood for Blood". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  7. ^ Session 53 The situation in Afghanistan and its implications for international peace and security S/1998/1109 page 2. 23 November 1998. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  8. ^ "Taliban, Iran hold talks". CNN. 1999-02-03. Retrieved 2008-11-04.
  9. ^ "Iran marks National Journalists' Day". Mehr News. August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2018.