Stray shells pierce houses of Tajik citizens during military exercises
Houses of three residents in the Shahrituz district of Tajikistan (south of the republic) were left damaged after stray shells fell on their buildings.
According to local authorities, ammunition flew into the homes of civilians during a shooting exercise at the "Kharbmaidon" training ground, where joint operational and tactical exercises of the "Combat Brotherhood-2017" of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) began on 10 November.
However, none of the residents in the district were injured, Ozodi Radio (the Tajik service of Radio Liberty) reported.
The head of the district headquarters for emergency situations, Said Boronov, said that houses were hit as a result of gunshots by tank guns. The military representatives told him about this. The shells caused damage to two houses in the district centre and one in the village of Ittifok. The owner of the last property, Saida Kurbonova, told Ozodi Radio that one of the shells was in a room where five of her children usually watch TV.
"Fortunately, that day there was no electricity in the village, so the children were in the kitchen with me. There are holes in the walls, on the ceiling and attic because of the shot," said a distressed Kurbonova. Her husband, Mukhiddin Kurbonov, added that the soldiers, who arrived at their house, found another hole in the basement of the house.
A hole from the projectile in the foundation of the Kurbonovs' house. Photo © Ozodi Radio
The head of the local village council, Abdurakhim Urunov, has promised the Kurbonov family to compensate them for the damage, which the special commission estimated will cost 2,000 somoni ($ 230).
"It's good that the shells did not explode," a source at the Tajik Defence Ministry told the Asia-Plus news agency. At the same time, the military agency considers it unlikely that the shells, hitting the homes of the Shakhrituz residents, were particularly a result of the exercises of the CSTO carried out at the "Kharbmaydon" training ground.
"This range is located at a distance of almost 10 kilometres from the affected houses, and we are investigating now where the shells came from," the source said.
Similar incidents with stray ammunition falling in the territory of settlements in the south of Tajikistan had emerged earlier. In the summer of 2015, the authorities of Shuroabad district (now Shamsiddin Shokhin district) urged residents of Darai village near the 201st Russian military base near the "Mumirak" test site, to not leave their houses on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays—on days, when firing took place at the training ground.
In recent years, dozens of houses have been damaged as a result of these fires; almost 1,000 hectares of grain was burnt, and hundreds of livestock killed. After the appeals of residents and the local administration to the management of the Russian military base, the military changed the venue for the exercise.
According to Ozodi Radio, 11 civilians have died after being hit by stray bullets and shell explosions during military exercises in Tajikistan over the past two decades, and at least 10 people, mostly children, were injured.
The military exercise of the CSTO "Combat Brotherhood-2017" started on 3 October in the Southern Military District of Russia. The first two stages of the exercises were held in Russia, Armenia, and Kazakhstan. The final stage took place in Tajikistan from 10 to 20 November.
The units of the armed forces and police of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, the national guard of Kazakhstan and the Russian Guard of Russia, as well as the emergency response unit, participate in the exercises. The number of military contingents, operational groups and formations of special forces in the exercise "Combat Brotherhood-2017" includes more than 12,000 people, employs more than 1,500 units of equipment and 90 aircraft.