At least 10 Tajik troops were killed in clashes with militants in the east during a military operation that followed the murder of a top security official, a military source said Tuesday.
Over 20 troops had also been wounded in the clashes, which came after Tajikistan sent special forces into Badakhshan province following the murder of the top regional security official Abdullo Nazarov at the weekend, the source told Agence France Presse, asking not to be named.
The source said that the dead and the wounded were being transported by helicopter to the capital Dushanbe. There are also dead and wounded among the militants but the number is not clear, it added.
The clashes are centered on the main town of the region, Khorog, which lies just east of the border with Afghanistan in the Pamir Mountains.
Nazarov was pulled out of his car and stabbed to death on Saturday, in a killing that sent shockwaves through Tajikistan as he was one of the country's top security officials.
He had served as the deputy head of the State Committee for National Security (ex-KGB) until being assigned to bring order to Tajikistan's restive Mountainous Badakhshan Autonomous Region (MBAR) in 2010.
The authorities initially pointed the blame on tobacco smugglers but then implicated a former rebel commander from the Tajik civil war who had become a commander of state border unit on the Afghan frontier postwar.
The state national security committee has said Tolib Ayombekov is now leading a militant group which has been involved in smuggling and had also carried out a string of deadly crimes on the frontier.
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