KULOB, March 11, 2009, Asia-Plus  -- The 41-year-old shepherd from the village of Odinaboi in Khatlon’s Shuroobod district, Shermamon Mamonov (phonetically spelled), has languished in Afghan captivity since March 4.

Speaking in an interview with Asia-Plus, the Shuroobod chairman Ibrohim Azizov said that two armed Afghans on March 4 took the shepherd from the Bardara area and now hold him hostage in unknown area.  Local security officers are taking measures to free him.

We will recall that Tajik authorities freed four Tajik nationals from Afghan captivity in January this year.

According to local experts, the number of kidnappings and theft of livestock along the Tajik-Afghan border in the Shuroobod district has increased in recent years.  Residents of border villages in Shuroobod are falling prey to drug dealers who are taking desperate measure to recover debts.  They are being kidnapped by Afghan drug dealers, taken from their villages and held hostage until their families pay ransom money to clear debts.  Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service reported in late January that local authorities say Afghan kidnappers who have been caught claim they commit the crimes on Tajik territory to pressure locals into paying debts for drugs that have been smuggled to them from Afghanistan.