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Tajikistan Opens Border So Afghan Shepherds Can Go Home

DUSHANBE -- A Tajik border official has said 25 Afghan shepherds and thousands of sheep stranded for nine days by a snowstorm crossed through the Vakhon Mountains to return to Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Border official Firdavs Davlatov told RFE/RL that the shepherds and some 3,500 sheep crossed into Afghanistan's Khargushi region on December 16 after being trapped in the Langhar region.

Davlatov said the decision to open the border for the shepherds and their flocks was made following a request by the Afghan Consulate in Khorugh, the administrative center of Badakhshan Province.

He said the shepherds had to travel some 80 kilometers on Tajik territory.

Zabehullah Naseeri, the second secretary of the Afghan Consulate in Badakhshan, told RFE/RL that crossing through Tajikistan was the only safe path for the shepherds and expressed his gratitude to Tajik officials for their understanding.

Davlatov said the shepherds were provided with medical and veterinary assistance when they entered Tajikistan.

Tajikistan shares a 1,400 kilometer border with Afghanistan.