FBI to help in search for missing Tajik girls: official
DUSHANBE - Agence France-PresseThe US FBI is to assist the Tajik authorities in the search for two girls missing for three weeks whose case has shocked the Central Asian state and raised fears of the existence of a child abduction racket, the US embassy said Monday.
Malika and Sabina Aralova, two cousins, went missing in broad daylight in the capital Dushanbe while the country was celebrating the Persian New Year on March 25.
The disappearance of the two girls, aged 6 and 4 respectively, has caused unprecedented public resonance in the country, with ordinary citizens setting up Facebook campaigns to find them and police undertaking a so far fruitless search.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will assist the Tajik interior ministry in the search, a US embassy spokesperson told AFP, without giving further details.
The disappearance of the girls had been discussed at a meeting between Tajik Interior Minister Ramazon Rakhimov and US ambassador Susan Elliot.
The case has prompted huge concern on the part of Tajik parents amid rumours the girls could have been kidnapped by an organised racket of child-traffickers or paedophiles who may have been linked to previous child disappearances.
The interior ministry has urged society to concentrate on facts and not listen to rumours but so far its intensive searches have yielded little result.
"The police have looked at video cameras at markets, the airport, down manholes and in ruined buildings near where they lived," interior ministry spokesman Makhmadullo Asadulloyev told AFP.
"But so far there is no result," he added.