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KHATLON, Tajikistan -- Two Tajik schoolboys kidnapped and taken to neighboring Afghanistan last week have been released and returned to Tajikistan without a ransom being paid, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik Foreign Ministry official Davlat Nazri told RFE/RL on June 10 that the two brothers, Faridun and Sangmad Sangmadov, were released thanks to the joint efforts of the Tajik and Afghan authorities on June 9.

The brothers, students at secondary school No. 23 in the Khamadonii district of the southern Khatlon region, were kidnapped by four unknown men while swimming in a local river on June 1.

The kidnappers later called the boys' father and demanded $40,000 for their release. The father did not have any money and went to the local police.

Tajik officials contacted their Afghan colleagues and the boys were released in the Afghan province of Takhar without a ransom being paid.

Earlier this month, an Afghan gang released a resident of Tajikistan's southern district of Shuroabad after a $20,000 ransom was paid.

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