DUSHANBE, June 10, 2011, Asia-Plus -- Due to efforts of special services of Tajikistan and Afghanistan two Tajik children were freed from captivity in Afghan Takhar province yesterday.

According to the Tajik MFA information department, the Sangmadov brothers – Faridoun, 12, and Sangmad, 14 – from the village of Angrubogh in Hamadoni district, Khatlon province were abducted by four armed persons and taken to Afghan territory on June 1.  “During ten days, criminals held them in the village of Yangiqala in Afghan Takhar province.  Kidnappers called their parents from Afghanistan and demanded 40,000 U.S. dollars for their release,” the source said

Faridoun and Sangmad are currently at the Tajik Consulate in Kunduz.

It is to be noted that people living near the border with Afghanistan are falling prey to drug dealers who are taking desperate measure to recover debts.  Afghan drug dealers are kidnapping residents of border villages and holding them hostage until their families pay ransom money to clear debts.  The most vulnerable area is Shouroobod district in Khatlon province.

Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service reported on May 30 that Tajiks living near the border with Afghanistan say armed Afghan drug smugglers routinely kidnap Tajiks for ransom and steal livestock, Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service reports.

Bozor Boboyev, who lives in a village on the Tajik-Afghan border, told RFE/RL on May 30 that two weeks ago drug smugglers kidnapped his brother, Mirzo, who is a tractor driver.  He said the kidnappers have called them from Afghanistan every day and demanded $20,000 for his release.

Local residents say they do not know the reason for the kidnappings.  But Tajik analysts say the main reason is that in many cases the victims fail to give the smugglers the proceeds from the sale of the drugs they received from them.

Local resident Shuhrat Nabiyev told RFE/RL that local people are afraid, because in most cases the border guards and security forces fail to react quickly in the case of abductions.  Nabiyev added that local villagers should be provided with weapons so they can defend themselves, but instead the authorities confiscate their hunting rifles.

On May 29, Afghan drug smugglers stole some 80 cows from a state-owned farm in the Shouroobod district, which borders Afghanistan, and drove them across the border.  They also abducted a herder -- but left him at the border, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service said.