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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 August 2005, 10:25 GMT 11:25 UK
Afghan heroin hang-glider downed
A Tajik guard patrols the border with Afghanistan
Tajikistan is a major route for Afghan heroin destined for Europe
Border guards in Tajikistan say they shot down a hang-glider carrying 20kg of heroin smuggled from Afghanistan.

Border officials said the Afghan traffickers had been using the glider for three years and previous attempts to shoot it down had failed.

Other reports said the "glider" was a parachute powered by a small engine.

Tajik officials said a manhunt was under way for the "pilot", who had managed to escape despite being injured on hitting the ground.

The incident took place in the Shuroobod area.

Major route

Lt Gen Saidamir Zukhurov, commander of the Tajik border troops, said the trespasser had "little chance to escape" because the area had been tightly secured by reinforcements.

Tajikistan is a major transit route for drugs from Afghanistan destined for Europe.

On Monday, Tajik border guards exchanged fire with Afghan smugglers, forcing them to flee and abandon their merchandise.

One of the traffickers may have been wounded in the gun battle, said Lt Gen Zukhurov.

They abandoned sacks containing 20kg of heroin and 20 kg of cannabis.

More than 800kg of Afghan heroin has been recovered in Tajikistan since the start of the year, according to official statistics.

Afghanistan's growing opium and heroin trade accounts for an estimated 90% of the world's supply.



FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Irish IndependentParagliding heroin smuggler shot down - 3 hrs ago
Irish Examiner Hand-gliding heroin smuggler shot down - 27 hrs ago
China Post Tajik border guards down hang-glider transporting Afghan heroin(updated PM 03:37) - 28 hrs ago
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