Tajikistan Reinforces Afghanistan Border with 1,000 Troops
Ex-Soviet Tajikistan is reinforcing the most most dangerous sections of its border with Afghanistan with more than 1,000 extra troops, military sources told AFP on Friday.
Tajikistan, an impoverished central Asian ally of Moscow, shares a 1,344-kilometer (835-mile) border with Afghanistan, including areas controlled by the Taliban jihadist insurgency.
"Taking into account the complex situation on the border, a special unit has been created of border guards who are contract soldiers," said the commander of Tajik border forces Radzhabali Rakhmonali in parliament on Friday.
Military sources told AFP more than 1,000 troops were serving in the new unit and the numbers could grow, amid fears of jihadist violence spreading into Central Asia.
Rakhmonali called the situation on the border "complex," with "Taliban fighters controlling a significant part of the Afghan border region."
"Afghan government forces are carrying out operations close to the border to push back and destroy the Taliban fighters," he added.
Last year Tajik border guards took part in 30 armed skirmishes with drug smugglers from Afghanistan, killing 16 smugglers.
Afghanistan has long been the world's largest producer of opium and heroin, with profits from the illicit trade helping fund Taliban insurgents who have been waging a deadly insurgency against the Western-backed government.