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Tajikistan soldier killed in Afghan border clash: source

A soldier from Tajikistan's border service was killed in a clash with Afghan smugglers during a search for a missing shepherd, a security source in the ex-Soviet country said Friday. A source in Tajikistan's security structures told AFP that the border service office was killed during the hunt for a shepherd suspected kidnapped.

"A Tajik officer was killed in the clash," the security source said, noting the fighting took place along the porous border 180 kilometres southeast of Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe. The source also said 15 kilogrammes of hashish and a machine gun were seized by Tajik servicemen following the clash. The shepherd, who local media reports have said is 42-years-old, was first reported missing on January 1.

Mountainous Tajikistan, the poorest former Soviet republic, shares 1,344 kilometres of border with Afghanistan, the world's largest producer of opium and heroin. Incidents on the border frequently include shootouts and kidnappings of Tajiks by Afghan smugglers who then swap them for arrested traffickers. Tajik authorities rarely report military casualties following such incidents.

(With inputs from agencies.)

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