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Tajikistan To Tighten Security Ahead Of Afghan Vote

DUSHANBE (Reuters) -- Afghanistan's northern neighbor Tajikistan will tighten border security in the run-up to the Afghan presidential election next month, Tajik Interior Minister Abdurakhim Qahorov has said.

The August 20 presidential poll, the second in Afghanistan's short history as a democracy, will take place at a time when violence in Afghanistan is at its worst since the Taliban were forced from power in 2001.

"The situation at the Afghan border may deteriorate ahead of the elections as coalition forces and Afghanistan's own security forces will seek to keep the whole country under control and different criminal groups may try to seek temporary refuge in neighboring countries, including ours," Qahorov said.

Speaking to journalists in the capital, Dushanbe, he said Tajik police and border guards in the area would be reinforced.

"We will not allow any infiltration or breaching of our state border," Qahorov said.

The former Soviet republic has itself reported a series of gunfights this month which it described as clashes with drug trafficking gangs of the Taliban-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

Tajikistan, along with other Central Asian states and Russia, are part of a new supply route for U.S. troops in Afghanistan which was set up after a surge in attacks on cargo convoys in Pakistan.