The Initiative Group say that on July 17, Erkin Abdullayev, 32, of Dekhkanab district in Kashkadarya region, was shot while riding his motorcycle over the border. Abdullayev, who was unemployed, was trying to bring a canister of gasoline from Turkmenistan. The severely injured man was brought to the hospital in Karshi, but died a day later. He leaves behind four children.
Abdullayev had apparently joined an increasing flow of Uzbeks crossing the border to buy cheap gasoline to use or resell in Uzbekistan. Human rights activists say that while officially, gas costs 80 cents per liter in Uzbekistan, it is sold for $1.20 per liter at gas stations and speculators can sell it for even more, about $2.50 a liter. Uzbeks in the regions bordering Turkmenistan have found that the Turkmen gasoline prices, subsidized by the government, are twice as less.
The incident is one of a string of such deaths that have occurred at the Turkmen border in recent years as Turkmenistan, bounded by Iran, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan, tightens up security in its volatile neighborhood. Independent news outlets and human rights groups have been reporting that Turkmen border guards have become increasingly harsh in dealing with border encroachment by various shepherds and fishermen and have cracked down on traders with contraband. Despite benefiting from considerable training from the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe and member states such as the United States, the Turkmen border service appears sometimes to operate in a regime of "shoot first, and ask questions later".
Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe carried a report on May 23 about killings of citizens of Afghanistan, who themselves are ethnic Turkmen, on the border of Turkmenistan.
The Amu Darya river is shifting its course, and has now moved deeper into Afghanistan. That means cowherds traveling to their traditional grazing lands tend to stray into neighboring Turkmenistan. Abdul Jabar, a cowherd from Yaz Ariq Dinar in Afghanistan, was unwilling to give up the pastures that once adjoined his village. So he put his cattle on a raft and poled across the river, and went into the scrubland to graze them.
The next day, Turkmen border guards returned his badly mutilated body to the Afghan side of the border, showing a bullet wound as well as incisions. Three other people were killed and their bodies thrown into the river, with the circumstances of death unknown. Another villager is missing. The cowherds say that sometimes, if they are caught by Turkmen border guards, they give up a cow as a fine, but sometimes they are beaten, RFE/RL reports. Officials in the capital and parliament have been unable to help despite appeals.
The inexorable moving of the Amu Darya and the strife it has caused contrast with otherwise friendly relations between Turkmenistan and Afghanistan, RFE/RL notes, as Ashgabat has helped its war-torn neighbor with the building of clinics and the provision of humanitarian aid. Turkmenistan also provides discounted electricity and is actively pursing with Kabul various development projects including a railroad and the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline.