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Afghan Drug Smugglers Reportedly Abduct Tajik Villager

KULOB, Tajikistan -- Tajiks living near the border with Afghanistan say Afghan drug smugglers have abducted a man after he cooperated with Tajik border guards, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

They said the armed kidnappers claimed the man, called Amirkhon, had informed Tajik border guards where they had hidden a cache of drugs.

Tajik border guards reportedly seized a huge amount of drugs about a week ago in the Shuroobod district of the southern Khatlon Province.

Amirkhon is the fourth person from the Shuroobod village of Qavoq to be abducted this year. But Qavoq residents say he is the first to be targeted for his alleged cooperation with border guards.

Qavoq is 5 kilometers from the Tajik-Afghan border.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a local official told RFE/RL on August 9 that an operation to round up Afghan drug smugglers is continuing in remote mountainous parts of Shuroobod.

He said he hoped that in the coming months all drug smugglers would be expelled from Tajik soil.

Qavoq resident Davlat Safarov told RFE/RL that local people on both sides of the border are afraid.

The Afghan drug smugglers kidnap local people, while local Tajik officials suspect those who provide police or border guards with information about the smuggling of being involved in the drug trade themselves.

Safarov said that without trust and cooperation between local residents and border guards it would prove impossible to put an end to drug smuggling.