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Tajikistan: Clashes On Afghan Border Kill Five

Dushanbe, 21 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Russian border guards have killed five Islamic opposition fighters in weekend clashes along Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan, says the press center of the Russian military command in Tajikistan.

Itar-Tass reports today that a group of seven armed fighters crossed the Panj River into Tajikistan and was intercepted yesterday by Russian guards. The report said two fighters were killed, two were captured and the rest escaped back to Afghanistan. One Russian border guard was reported wounded.

In a separate incident that took place along another stretch of the border last night, Russian guards opened fire on five armed men they said were crossing into Tajikistan. Tass said three of them were killed and 60 kilograms of opium were found at the site. No casualties were reported among Russian border guards.

The reports could not be independently confirmed.

Thousands of Russian border guards are helping Tajikistan's pro-Moscow government defend the border against Islamic opposition fighters, mainly based in Afghanistan. Moscow also says it is helping crack down on drugs and arms smuggling across the Central Asian border.