KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- Officials in Tajikistan say they are investigating the sudden deaths of four residents in the northern city of Khujand following a feast.
Aqbar Sharifov, the spokesman for the Sughd regional police, told RFE/RL on January 2 that four other individuals remained hospitalized in the case with symptoms of food poisoning.
Sharifov said investigators were trying to determine whether the deaths were the result of food poisoning or the consumption of tainted alcohol.
The four men who died were between 57 and 67 years of age. They had said they suddenly felt sick after eating a meal on December 30 that included alcohol.
Relatives of one of those who died told RFE/RL the tragedy occurred in a house owned by a couple known for selling alcohol and organizing drinking parties.
Last year, on New Year's Eve, two residents of the same city died after consuming bootleg alcohol.
Poisonings with bootleg alcohol are frequent across the former Soviet Union, especially in Russia, where people sometimes drink homemade alcohol or cheap bootleg liquor.
In December 2016, at least 74 people died in the Siberian city of Irkutsk after drinking bath lotion that contained methanol -- which can be fatal if consumed internally.