Dushanbe Probing Claim Taliban Tanks Being Repaired In Tajikistan
RFE/RL's Tajik Service, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan January 02, 2017
Tajik authorities are looking into claims by an Afghan official that Taliban tanks and other heavy weapons are being repaired by Russian engineers in Tajikistan.
Muhammadjon Ulughkhojaev, a spokesman for Tajikistan's border guard agency, said on January 2 that the allegations are "baseless."
But he added he is unaware of all details of the allegations.
Ulughkhojaev said the border guard agency "has been looking into the claim," will study the Afghan media reports, and will report on the results of their investigation.
The Afghan Defense Ministry's deputy spokesman, Mohammad Radmanish, was also skeptical of such reports.
Radmanish said on January 2 that he doesn't think it is possible "to transport heavy weaponry to the other side of the Amu-Darya River" that marks the border between Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
"[The Taliban] usually drives small vehicles, such as pickup trucks with heavy weapons mounted on them, but they do not have heavy vehicles, such as tanks," he said.
Last month, a former governor of northern Afghanistan's Kunduz Province was quoted by Afghan media as saying that military vehicles and other weapons seized by Taliban militants from the Afghan Army were being sent to Tajikistan for repairs.
Muhammad Omar Safi reportedly alleged that the vehicles and weapons had been repaired by Russian military engineers based in Tajikistan before being returned to the Taliban.
Safi claimed that such cooperation between the Afghan Taliban and the Russian military has been going on for nearly two years.
Some 7,000 Russian troops are stationed in Tajikistan.
In recent months, Afghan officials have voiced concern over what they described as Russian aid to the Taliban.
In early December, Afghan lawmakers said they planned to investigate reports about alleged seizures of Russian-made weapons destined for the Taliban.
Russia denies providing aid to the Sunni extemist militant group.
Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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