Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Wednesday, 15 March, 2000, 12:23 GMT
Border guards kill 13 in Tajikistan
Opium harvest
Opium production is widespread in neighbouring Afghanistan
By Central Asia correspondent Louise Hidalgo

Russian border guards stationed in Tajikistan say they have shot dead 13 suspected drug traffickers on the frontier with Afghanistan.

Reports said the shooting began after a group carrying 2kg of heroin tried to cross into Tajik territory.

A spokesman said a first group of seven people had opened fire after the border guards tried to stop them as they crossed the border.

Four died in the ensuing gun battle, three others escaped.

The second group of nine alleged smugglers was discovered two hours later by helicopters scouring the banks of the Amu Darya river that marks the frontier with Afghanistan. All were killed.

Troubled border

Hardly a week passes without some incident on this troubled border, which is still patrolled by Russian troops eight years after Tajikistan became independent, following the break-up of the former Soviet Union.

The area was heavily mined during the Tajik civil war when Tajik rebels used to infiltrate from their bases across the border in Afghanistan.

Tajik officials believe this incident is the largest number of suspected smugglers to have been killed in a single day since the end of the civil war in 1997.

Moscow and its allies in Tajikistan have long been warning of the growing danger of heroin and opium in traffic from Afghanistan into Central Asia.

Already this year the Russian border guards say they have seized 200kg of heroin, 8kg in a single haul.

The Russians have been accused in the past of exaggerating the threat to justify their continuing presence on the former Soviet Union's southern flank.

But a United Nations report last month confirmed that opium production in Afghanistan last year had risen sharply, and increasingly it is smuggled out to the rest of the world through the newly-independent states of Central Asia.
Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Asia-Pacific Contents

Country profiles
See also:

11 Nov 99 | Asia-Pacific
Central Asia's battle with drugs
23 Feb 00 | South Asia
UN concerned over drugs in Asia
09 May 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
Afghanistan's opium harvest
10 Sep 99 | South Asia
Afghan opium crop 'largest recorded'
15 May 99 | South Asia
Taleban destroy poppy crop
26 Jun 99 | South Asia
Taleban wages anti-drugs war from air
28 Feb 00 | South Asia
Afghan drug trade targeted
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories