Two Killed In Security Operation Along Tajik-Afghan Border

By RFE/RL's Tajik Service

DUSHANBE -- Tajik officials say one of the country's border guards and a suspected terrorist have been killed in an ongoing security operation along the border with Afghanistan.

Muhammad Ulughojaev, a spokesman for the Tajik border-guard service, told RFE/RL on March 7 that the operation was launched on March 5 after nine armed militants crossed into Tajikistan from Afghanistan.

Ulughojaev confirmed that a border guard had been killed in the course of the operation, but dismissed reports of additional casualties among Tajik personnel. 

One member of the "armed group of terrorists," whom Ulughojaev identified as Faskhiddin Valadi Kurbon, was killed and two other members of the group were arrested.

Tajik security forces and border guards were continuing to search for the remaining members of the group, according to Ulughojaev.The search is reportedly focused on islets in the Panj River, which defines a large segment of the Tajik-Afghan border.

The Tajik National Security Committee had earlier said that the armed group was led by an Afghan national named Mirafzal Arbob Sherafzal.

Afghan officials say that the nine were members of the Taliban, which controls parts of the Imam-Sahib district of Afghanistan's Konduz Province bordering Tajikistan.

Imam-Sahib Governor Amanuddin Kuraishi told RFE/RL on March 6 that the part of the Tajik-Afghan border where the intrusion reportedly took place is fully controlled by Taliban.

Kuraishi alleged that Mirafzal Arbob Sherafzal, the man initially named as the leader of the group, used to be involved in the trafficking of illegal goods and is currently an active member of the Taliban.