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Border Roads Shut, Hampering Trade On Tajik-Afghan Frontier

FILE: A bridge over the Panj river that seperates northren Afghanistan from Tajikistan's Kulob region.

Officials in Tajikistan and Afghanistan say the main highway connecting the two countries across their mountainous border has been closed for several days.

Afghan media reports on December 20 quoted officials in the northern Kunduz Province as saying that the highway had been closed near the border town of Sher Khan Bandar for four days, affecting trade at markets along the frontier.

The reports said the crossing was closed by Tajik authorities, but Tajik officials have made no announcement and no public comment on the reports.

However, officials in Tajikistan's southern districts told RFE/RL that the main road had been closed for four days and several other routes, including five bridges over the Panj River, had been closed for at least 10 days.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue publicly. They did not say why the roads were closed.

Tajikistan has closed border crossings several times in the past, citing reasons including the threat from Taliban militants in Afghanistan, a military operation to capture a former warlord, and operations against drug traffickers.

-- With reporting by Pajhwok