KULOB, October 4, Asia-Plus  -- Alfattoh Roziqov, deputy Khatlon prosecutor for the Kulob region, yesterday told Asia-Plus that resident of the village of Shohon, Dashti Jum jamoat in the Shuroobod district Safarali Hotamov was taken hostage by Afghan drug dealers on September 25 and taken to unknown place.   

No one of groups of smugglers being at work in the district has to date claimed responsibility for this and demanded ransom for releasing Hotamov.   

In the meantime, Roziqov said that two Tajik had been released from Afghan captivity without any demand for ransoms.  

As it had been reported earlier, resident of the village of Marghob in Shuroobod, minor Abdurasoul Jumakhon and Rustam Muslimov from Farkhor who was on a visit to their home, were kidnapped by Afghan drug dealers on January 7, 2007.  They were released a month ago without any ransom, the prosecutor said.  

It is to be noted that Tajiks living near the border with Afghanistan are falling prey to drug dealers who are taking desperate measure to recover debts.  In the 1990s and early 2000s, quite a large number of Tajiks were being kidnapped by Afghan drug dealers, taken from their border villages and held hostage until their families pay ransom money to clear debts.   

The most vulnerable part of the Tajik border is the Shuroobod area.  In the late 1990s and early 2000s, cattle rustling, hostage taking and smuggling of drugs and arms were endemic there.