Five Iranians released by Afghanistan's Taliban militia returned to Tehran on Sunday, and several said they were tortured in captivity, the official Islamic Republic News Agency re-ported.
Iran says the Taliban militia is holding at least 50 more Iranians. Tehran claims most were drivers delivering food, medicine and other humanitarian goods to needy Afghans.The Taliban, which controls 90 percent of Afghanistan, says the Iranians were carrying weapons to its opponents in the north of the country.
One of the released prisoners, Behnam Alipour, told IRNA he had suffered physical and psychological torture during three years of captivity.
Alipour, a truck driver, said he was beaten with a cable, and he and other captives were forced to confess that they were carrying arms to the Taliban's foes, although they were only transporting humanitarian aid.
Another driver, Ali Hussein Husseini, said he was held captive for 55 days and lost 44 pounds due to torture and poor living conditions, IRNA said. A third, unidentified prisoner said he was beaten repeatedly during a year of captivity.
No information was available on the other two released prisoners.
Tension between the two countries has risen since the Taliban overran the city of Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan on Aug. 8 and killed several Iranian diplomats posted there.
Iran has since deployed about 200,000 troops on its border with Afghanistan amid growing demands for vengeance by mobs of Iranian demonstrators.
The Taliban has returned the bodies of seven of the Iranians to Tehran and has released a total of 10 Iranian captives.
Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, in comments published Sunday, said he did not foresee a war with Iran.
However, in eastern Afghanistan, an estimated 10,000 people chanting anti-Iranian slogans rallied in the town of Khost on Sunday to protest Tehran's massive troop buildup, Kabul radio reported.
The demonstrators reportedly demanded that Iran pull back its forces and vowed to defend their country if Iran attacks.
Meanwhile, a powerful rocket slammed into a crowded Kabul neigh-bor-hood on Sunday, killing at least nine civilians and wounding six others in Afghanistan's capital. Hundreds of civilians searched for survivors in the rubble of homes and shops.
The Taliban said the rocket was fired by the opposition alliance in the north.
It has been months since a rocket strike hit civilians areas of Kabul, a city that has grown more peaceful in the nearly two years since the hard-line Taliban seized it and imposed its harsh form of Islam.