DUSHANBE -- Taxi drivers in eastern Tajikistan say they are using alternative routes after armed groups began attacking and robbing taxis on a highway near the Tajik-Afghan border, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Drivers travelling between the capital, Dushanbe, and Khorugh, the capital of the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province, told RFE/RL they began using a longer route via Khoburabot after at least five cars were stopped and the passengers robbed on October 9 in Shurobod, 22 kilometers south of Dushanbe.
Taxi driver Nazrullo Davlatov said an armed group stopped at least five taxis late on October 9 and robbed the passengers of cash, mobile phones, and other valuables.
Saadi Ernazarov, a taxi dispatcher in Khorugh, confirmed Davlatov's account of the robberies and said all taxi drivers were using the Khoburabot route to avoid the armed thieves.
Tajik officials have not commented on the situation. Some unnamed sources within the security forces told RFE/RL the robbers were likely Afghans who often cross the poorly guarded border to smuggle drugs and commit other crimes.
The Kulob-Kulma highway that connects southern Tajikistan with China is the main route used by travelers to reach Gorno-Badakhshan from Dushanbe.
But the lack of security in the area has caused people to travel via Khoburabot, which is longer and also goes through the volatile Rasht region. Government forces and police have been conducting a deadly operation in Rasht against armed rebels for several weeks.
The situation in Rasht worsened after 26 Tajik soldiers were killed in an ambush there on September 19.