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Tajikistan: Joint Military Exercises Held Near Afghan Border

Dushanbe, 19 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The Russian and Tajik armed forces will hold a joint military training exercise involving 5,000 troops near the border with Afghanistan today. A spokesman for Tajikistan's Defense Ministry told the AP news agency that units from the Tajik army and Russia's 201st Motorized Division will take part in the exercises at the Mumirak firing range, about 40 kilometers from the Tajik-Afghan border.

The spokesman said they will train to destroy armed groups of terrorists caught crossing the Afghan border, using a variety of weapons against the targets, including warplanes, helicopter gunships, missile systems, and artillery.

The exercises, dubbed South-Antiterror-2000, are part of a series of antiterrorist training operations that have been held this week in several Central Asian states. The first took place on 15 April in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, and another was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan.