Uzbekistan appears to be expanding its de facto economic blockade of Tajikistan, pushing the impoverished country further into Central Asia’s most remote corner.
Since a mysterious explosion at a bridge in Uzbekistan last November severed southern Tajikistan from rail traffic, the region’s 3.5 million residents have remained dependent on alternative, more expensive transport routes. Even humanitarian food aid has had trouble reaching the Tajiks.
Tashkent claimed the blast was the work of terrorists. But eyewitnesses discount that explanation, fostering speculation that the Uzbeks damaged the bridge on purpose to punish Tajikistan. The two countries have had a contentious relationship, particularly in terms of water resources.
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