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Iran Bans ‘Pokemon Go’ Before Mobile Game Is Even Launched There

Pokemon Go craze is causing real-life injuries and danger 2:35

TEHRAN, Iran — "Pokemon Go" is not officially available in Iran, but that didn't stop the country's government from banning it anyway.

The smash-hit cellphone app has been downloaded more than 100 million times and is now available in more than 50 countries. Players can now hunt pokemon in Papua New Guinea, Brunei and the Federated States of Micronesia — one of the world's smallest nations.

Image: Pokemon Go players in Iran
Iranians play on the "Pokemon Go" app in Tehran's Mellat Park on Aug. 3. ATTA KENARE / AFP - Getty Images

The game has not been officially launched in Iran, but players have been able to download it by using software that fools the GPS location on their cellphones.

The government has attempted to clamp down on this activity, with Abdolsamad Khoramabadi, a deputy in the country's Internet Supervisory and Monitoring Committee, announcing the game would be blocked for security reasons.

"Because this game combines virtual and real space as well as other issues … this game can, from a security point of view, create problems both for the country and people," Khoramabadi told the Tasnim News Agency.

He did not explain why the game posed a threat.

"Pokemon Go" is based on a pair of video games that came out for Nintendo's Game Boy in the 1990s. Players have to walk around a real-world map hunting imaginary cartoon creatures. When located, they are then overlaid onto payers' cellphone camera screens waiting to be caught.

Related: Pokemon No? As Casualties Rise, Cops Urge Care on Roads

This combination of the real and digital worlds — known as augmented reality — has not been without its problems.

Players have been urged not to venture into Japan's Fukushima evacuation zone and warned to steer clear of landmine areas in Bosnia.

A 20-year-old man playing the game was reportedly shot to death in San Francisco late Sunday — the latest crime linked to the game.

Alexander Smith reported from London.