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Tajik Ministry Says Senior Military Adviser Dies In Car Accident

Former Tajik Chief of the General Staff Zarif Sharifzoda (file photo)

Tajikistan's Defense Ministry says the former chief of the general staff of the armed forces has died in a car accident in Dushanbe.

Ministry spokesperson Faridun Mahmadalizoda told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that Zarif Sharifzoda, an adviser to Tajikistan's defense minister, died as a result of the January 18 accident.

Mahmadalizoda said Sharifzoda had served in recent years as Tajikistan's chief of the general staff and as first deputy defense minister.

A senior Defense Ministry source told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that Sharifzoda had been driving the car and, according to preliminary information, suffered a heart attack while returning to his home from work.

Sharifzoda's car collided with another vehicle. He was pronounced dead by the time he arrived at the hospital, the source said.

Mahmadalizoda said an investigation had been launched into Sharifzoda’s death.

Tajikistan, a mainly Muslim former Soviet republic, has faced varying threats of Islamic extremism in recent years and has pursued deeper military cooperation with Russia, China, and the United States.