Dushanbe denies claim that Taliban heavy weapons repaired in Tajikistan

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DUSHANBE (TCA) — 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, RFE/RL reports.

Muhammadjon Ulughkhojaev, a spokesman for Tajikistan’s border guard agency, said on January 2 that the allegations are “baseless.”

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.

Tajikistan hosts a Russian military base with some 7,000 troops.

In recent months, Afghan officials have voiced concern over what they described as Russian aid to the Taliban.

Russia denies providing aid to the Taliban.

Sergey Kwan

TCA