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Former Tajik Passport Official's 'Suicide' Probed

KULOB, Tajikistan -- Local authorities in southern Tajikistan have ordered an investigation into the suspected suicide of a former district passport office head, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Farkhor district prosecutor Mirzo Fathulloev said on December 9 that Jamoliddin Safarov killed himself on November 24 in his own home.

Safarov had headed the passport office in Farkhor, a district in Khatlon province that borders Afghanistan.

Internal passports in Tajikistan are issued by a special branch of the directorate for interior affairs. They can be used as a domestic identification document and for travel to Russia by plane. They must also be submitted when applying to the Foreign or Interior Ministry for a passport to travel abroad.

Some experts believe that Safarov's suicide is related to the case of several Afghan citizens who recently were illegally issued passports in Farkhor district. One official from Farkhor and a second from neighboring Hamadoni district were recently dismissed for illegally issuing internal passports to several citizens of Afghanistan.

Local expert Talbi Dovud told RFE/RL that some Afghans try to acquire Tajik internal passports as they entitle the holder to certain privileges and facilitate travel to other CIS member states.

The Farkhor prosecutor's office has dismissed speculation about the motives for Safarov's suicide, noting that at the time of his death he had already retired from the passport office and had never been under suspicion.