Sunday, November 23, 2014


Qishloq Ovozi

More Turkmen Troops Killed Along Afghan Border

This latest attack again highlights the fragile and often tense situation along the Afghan-Turkmen border. (file photo)
This latest attack again highlights the fragile and often tense situation along the Afghan-Turkmen border. (file photo)
For the second time in three months Turkmen troops along the Afghan border have suffered losses.
 
Three Turkmen soldiers were killed on May 24 by a small armed group that crossed the border from the Ghormach region of Afghanistan's Faryab Province.
 
The motive for this latest attack is unclear.
 
But RFE/RL's Turkmen Service, Azatlyk, reported that the acting head of Afghanistan's Ghormach district, Asyl Khan, said information he received from security officials in the area where the shooting took place indicated that the intruders took weapons -- two Kalashnikovs and a heavy-caliber machine gun -- from the slain soldiers and brought them back to Afghanistan.
 
Khan added that, according to his information, Turkmenistan's forces did not react to the attack on their territory.
 
It was unclear who the attackers were. Qishloq Ovozi has previously reported that there are militant groups in northern Afghanistan who are allied with the Taliban but are led by ethnic Uzbeks.
 
These militants reportedly include both ethnic Uzbeks and Turkmen.
 
Khan said the group that crossed into Turkmenistan on May 24 was led by someone named Ghulam Destghir Topan.
 
Three Turkmen border guards were also killed just across the border from Afghanistan's Baghdis Province at the end of February.
 
That attack, it was learned later, was revenge for Turkmen guards killing one militant and capturing two others after they crossed into Turkmenistan around February 10.
 
A threat from those militants to attack the Turkmen border guards led to the captive militants being freed and the body of the dead militant being returned. The three Turkmen border guards were killed after they had freed the militants and returned the body.
 
This latest attack again highlights the fragile situation along the Afghan-Turkmen border as the bulk of foreign forces prepare to depart Afghanistan at the end of this year.
 
Militant groups, particularly the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, have been gathering in northern Afghanistan for months, raising fears on the northern side of the Afghan-Central Asian border about what will happen after 2014.
 
-- Bruce Pannier with contributions from Muhammad Tahir (RFE/RL's Turkmen Service) and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
 
* Azatlyk is conducting a round table discussion about the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan on May 29. Qishloq Ovozi will post a full report of proceedings the following day.
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About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change. Content will draw on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad. The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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