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Turkmenistan Opens First Animal Shelter Ahead Of Asian Games

Animal rights groups say homeless dogs were being poisoned ahead of the Asian Games.

Turkmenistan is officially opening its first shelter for stray cats and dogs as it prepares to host a major international athletic competition next month.

The shelter, founded by a resident at her home outside Ashgabat, was registered by the state and will receive government assistance, a report on August 21 in Neutral Turkmenistan said.

The government has pledged to allocate land to expand the shelter, which currently houses about 100 dogs and 50 cats. It also promised to provide medicine for it.

The move comes as animal rights activists condemned what they said was a brutal campaign to slaughter homeless animals ahead of the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games, which Turkmenistan is hosting from September 17 to 27.

The Central Asian state has made extensive preparations for the prestigious games, including banning the sale of alcohol until the games are over, ordering former prison inmates to stay away from sports venues, and clearing beggars from the streets of Ashbagat.

Based on reporting by AP and RFE/RL's Turkmen Service