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More Than 30 Turkmen Soldiers Killed In 'Horrible' Traffic Accident

More than 30 military personnel have been killed in a traffic accident in Turkmenistan, sources close to the Defense Ministry told RFE/RL on July 21.

According to the sources, the accident happened near the capital, Ashgabat, on July 18 when a military convoy transporting personnel was involved in a collision with a truck and another vehicle.

The sources commented after an initial report on July 20 said that 18 soldiers had died in an accident either near Ashgabat or along the volatile border with Afghanistan, where Taliban militants have been on an offensive to capture districts in the region.

Because the highly isolated Central Asian nation's secretive government is known for its reluctance to talk to the media, it was not possible to immediately get details on the situation.

The sources, who requested not to be named as they were not authorized to comment, said that an army major, a captain, and a lieutenant were among those killed in the accident.

RFE/RL correspondents talked to a witness who described the accident scene as "horrible."

"Bodies and truck parts were everywhere. Other soldiers were in shock. The military officers ordered the site cordoned off. There was blood everywhere," the witness said.

Neither the Defense Ministry nor the Interior Ministry would comment to RFE/RL about the situation.

There have been traffic accidents in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic in the past in which military personnel were killed. In September 2020, at least five soldiers died in a traffic accident in the Mary region. Independent media reports said at the time that 11 soldiers had died in the accident.

In recent weeks, Turkmenistan has been sending heavy weaponry, helicopters, and other aircraft to areas along the 800-kilometer Turkmen-Afghan border as the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated sharply with Taliban fighters advancing on provincial centers and even some border crossings.

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