DUSHANBE -- The Tajik border guard service has denied its personnel engage in drug trafficking, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.
Khushnud Rahmatulloev, spokesman for the border-guard service of the State Committee for National Security, told RFE/RL that allegations by Uzbek border guards that their Tajik counterparts are involved in drug smuggling are unfounded.
Rahmatulloev confirmed that on November 13 Tajik border guards killed one Uzbek border guard in northern Tajikistan, but he denied that any drugs were found at the scene. He explained that the Uzbek border guards had crossed into Tajik territory to protect a group of smugglers trying to bring heating appliances into Uzbekistan.
Rahmatulloev said the Tajik border guards warned the alleged smugglers in Uzbek and Russian, but they ignored the warnings. He stressed that the Tajik border guards at the Istaravshan border point opened fire in accordance with relevant regulations, killing a border guard.
He said a joint Tajik-Uzbek commission is investigating the incident.
The Uzbek Embassy in Dushanbe confirmed the death of the border guard but said they know nothing about the joint investigation.
The incident on the Uzbek-Tajik border was not the first this year. In June, Uzbek border guards killed one drug smuggler and confiscated 23 kilograms of narcotics.
Tajik antidrug agency official Bobojon Shafies told RFE/RL on November 15 that weak cooperation -- or even the absence of any practical cooperation between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- complicates the fight against drug trafficking, because most smugglers are well organized and operate on an international level.