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Tajikistan: Witnesses to Fighting Speak as Negotiations Continue

Khorog residents cross the Gunt River, which splices through the capital of Gorno-Badakhshan province, in happier days. (Photo: David Trilling)

Dennis Ryll, a retired doctor from Las Vegas, was looking to take an exotic vacation, but adventure-seeking turned scary when he found himself caught in the middle of a firefight between government forces and local armed groups in Tajikistan’s restive region of Gorno-Badakhshan.

As he was evacuating Khorog, he looked up at the hills and saw government snipers taking up positions. It crossed his mind that “there is always the possibility someone is [mad] and you just happen to be the guy standing there [in the crosshairs]."

Ryll was part of a contingent of 30 cyclists making a trans-Asia ride from Shanghai to Istanbul. The group was pausing July 24 in Khorog when government security forces launched an all-out assault against armed units loyal to a local warlord, Tolib Ayombekov. The cyclists were pinned down in hotels for three days before being evacuated, along with other foreigners in the area, to the Tajik capital Dushanbe. Despite encountering life-threatening danger, Ryll said he was planning to keep on cycling, making the next leg of the trip from Dushanbe into Uzbekistan.

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Tajikistan: Witnesses to Fighting Speak as Negotiations Continue

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