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Afghanistan: Taliban Advance Concerns Moscow, Central Asian Countries

Kabul, 30 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's neighbors and Moscow continue to express strong concern as Taliban Islamic forces consolidate control of Afghanistan.

Reports and correspondents say concern is perhaps strongest in mostly Muslim Central Asia -- from Turkmenistan in the west to Kazakhstan in the north and Tajikistan in the east.

Moscow officials are also expressing concern about the influence of the Afghan situation on Central Asia, especially Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. These countries also have raised questions about Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan, and implications for ethnic minorities inside the country.

About 3.5 million ethnic Tajiks live in northern Afghanistan, and the ethnic Uzbek and Turkmen minorities in Afghanistan is estimated at about two million people each.

During a visit to Rabat, Morocco, Russia's Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primkov called the situation in Afghanistan "an outburst of civil war, blood and carnage." Primakov also said there is also the threat of splitting the country into two halves with "very harsh consequences."