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Child Disappearances Spark Serial Killer Fears in Tajik Capital

Police tight-lipped on cases, allowing panic to spread.
A series of disappearances of young children has sown panic in the Tajik capital Dushanbe, and police silence is doing nothing to calm parents’ fears.

In March 2013, two sisters aged four and five disappeared, and in August 2014, a five-year-old girl who lived near them also went missing. Her body was later discovered, making it a murder case, but the two others have not been found. At the end of October, an eight-year-old boy was found dead in a local river. Police said he hit his head and drowned, but local residents doubt his death was accidental.

The interior ministry is not saying anything about the cases, leading to suspicions that either it is withholding information or its police officers are not up to the job of solving these crimes.

Experts say the cases demonstrate that the ministry needs a special department to investigate abductions, and that parents need to be educated about keeping their children safe. 

As uncertainty reigns, parents are increasingly afraid to let their children out of their sight, even to go to school.

Mehrangez Tursunzoda is an IWPR contributor in Tajikistan.

This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan.  It was produced under two IWPR projects:  Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union; and the Human Rights Reporting, Confidence Building and Conflict Information Programme, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway.The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry. 

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