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Four Said Killed By Police In Violence Near Afghan-Turkmen Border

Turkmen villagers near Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan.
Turkmen villagers near Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan.

A local leader in an ethnic Turkmen village near Afghanistan's border with Turkmenistan says police killed at least four people and wounded at least seven others while dispersing a protest.

The head of Qarqeen village council, Gulam Rasul Qaryadar, told RFE/RL that police fired shots on March 16 after ethnic Turkmens gathered in front of the district administration building, demanding help from the authorities to stop what they say are efforts by Turkmenistan to take land they claim as their own.

Other officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that violence erupted but did not give details.

A doctor at the local hospital refused to comment, saying he was too busy "dealing with the wounded."

The villagers have said that Turkmen forces are grabbing their land on an island that was formed several years ago in the Amu River, which serves as part of the border between Afghanistan and Turkmenistan.

The villagers say the river changed course and cut into Afghan territory that belongs to them.

The ethnic Turkmen say Turkmenistan recently deployed military forces to the island and began putting up fences that prohibit the villagers from reaching the large island.

Villagers say that Turkmen forces seized three ethnic Turkmen Afghans during a confrontation on March 15.