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.