At least 118 transborder porters, or kolbars, were killed or wounded in western Iran in November, representing a nearly three-fold increase compared to the previous month, a human rights group says.
The Kurdish organization Hengaw reported that over the past month, eight kolbars died, including one under the age of 18, and 110 others sustained injuries, including 14 minors, as the Islamic Republic continued its clampdown on illicit cross-border trade.
Over 93 percent of the casualties were the result of "direct fire" by the armed forces of the Islamic Republic, Hengaw said.
Kurdistan province bore the brunt of the casualties with 93 cases, followed by Kermanshah (22) and West Azerbaijan (3).
The kolbars are porters who haul goods on their backs across the borders of Iran and over long distances, mostly in the impoverished, mountainous Kurdish areas adjacent to Iraq, to make a living.
The Iranian authorities label kolbars as "smugglers,” but human rights organizations maintain that their activity is a form of survival for many men living in impoverished border regions where economic opportunities are scarce.
Over the past decade, hundreds of kolbars have lost their lives or sustained injuries while carrying out their activity.
From 2012 to the end of 2021, the Kolbar News website reported that at least 547 kolbars died and more than 1,601 were injured in Kermanshah, West Azerbaijan and Kurdistan.