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NATO to clear Tajik munitions

Feb. 1, 2012 at 9:43 AM

BRUSSELS, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Clearing munitions left from the Tajik civil war will help prevent the spread of weapons to neighboring Afghanistan, program officials said.

Tajikistan plunged into a five-year civil war following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Alexander Griffiths, a director with the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, said the Tajik civil war left around 30,000 tons of munitions strewn about the country.

"Most storage sites are just warehouses, poorly maintained and insecure," he said in a statement.

NATO officials said it was important to secure munitions stocks in Tajikistan to prevent them from winding up in the hands of insurgents fighting international forces in Afghanistan.

The clearing operation in Tajikistan counts the Japanese and British governments among major financiers.

"By securing and destroying surplus munitions, the U.K., the other contributing nations and NATO are making a significant contribution to the safety of the region," Mariot Leslie, the British envoy to NATO, said in a statement.

The project was launched from NATO headquarters in Brussels. NATO estimated the cost at more than $750,000.

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