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U.N. Says Four Slain in Tajikistan

July 21, 1998

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Four members of a U.N. observer mission were ambushed, shot and killed while on patrol in Tajikistan, U.N. officials said Tuesday.

The U.N. report differed from that of Tajik officials, who said the observers died in an accident when their car plunged off a cliff in the Pamir Mountains about 100 miles east of Dushanbe, capital of the Central Asian country.

The U.N. report came too late in the day for Tajik officials to comment.

U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said information from U.N. officials at the site confirmed the four men were shot and killed Monday while on the road from Tavildara to Garm, about 90 miles east of the capital. The four failed to report back to headquarters Monday and were found Tuesday.

The U.N. special representative for Tajikistan, Jan Kubis, recalled all field teams to Dushanbe and was in contact with the president and opposition groups to ensure those responsible were brought to justice, Eckhard said.

``The members of the Security Council condemn this murder,″ council President Sergey Lavrov of Russia said after the council was briefed on the deaths.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan was ``deeply depressed″ about the deaths and condemned them, Eckhard said.

The dead were identified as military observers Maj. Ryszard Szcwczyk of Poland and Maj. Adolfo Sharpegue of Uruguay; civil affairs officer Akino Yutaka of Japan; and a Tajik translator, Jourajon Mahramov.

About 70 U.N. observers are in Tajikistan to monitor a peace deal reached last year that ended the former Soviet republic’s civil war.

Update hourly