KABUL, Afghanistan, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Afghans, reacting to the six-week long fuel blockade by neighboring Iran, are taking to the streets as gasoline and heating fuel prices soar, officials said.
On the second day of protests Sunday, Afghans threw eggs and stones on the Iranian consulate in the border city of Heart, The Washington Post reported.
Gasoline and heating fuel prices in Afghanistan have risen as much as 60 percent since Iran blocked fuel tankers passing through its territory, stranding 2,000 fuel trucks at the border. Afghan Commerce Minister Anwar ul-Haq Ahady, in the first such public criticism, said his government was "not happy" with Iran, the Post said.
Iranian media quoted officials as saying say the action was taken as the government suspected the fuel was ending up with NATO forces in Afghanistan, a charge NATO officials in Afghanistan denied.
Ahady said about 2,400 tons of fuel a day, much of it from Iraq, had been coming into Afghanistan through Iran until December. Those supplies were meeting about half of Afghanistan's fuel needs.
The minister said immediate relief measures called for importing 200,000 tons of fuel through other routes.
Iran has long been a sanctuary for Afghan refugees during conflicts, while Afghanistan's rivers have been a steady source of water to Iran, the report said. Iran has given financial support to Kabul.
The blockade comes at a time when many Afghans say they suspect Tehran wants to weaken their country, undermine its alliance with the West and increase the number of Shiite Muslims in their country, which is mostly Sunni, the report said.