Armenian Government Silent On ‘Detained Afghans’

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Authorities in Armenia gave no further information on two Afghan nationals that were reportedly taken into custody at the Yerevan airport with false documen’s over two weeks ago.

The news of the arrests was announced late Thursday by state television. The following day–the Russian border guard troops stationed in Armenia confirmed that the two Afghan men arrived on a flight from Istanbul on December 25. A spokesman’said Armenian security agents detained them after the Russian border guards at Zvartnots International airport discovered two forged Bulgarian passports.

"The persons who showed those passports had a distinct south Asian look and were behaving in a suspicious manner," the official–Lieutenant-Colonel Ivan Zhirenko–told RFE/RL. He added that they later identified themselves as Afghans.

The Armenian ministry of national security–which holds the men in detention–has not yet revealed their names and commented on their possible motives. An official at the ministry’s press service refused to give any details.

It is unclear whether or not the detainees might have links with any of the militant groups operating in Afghanistan. "We have no such information," Zhirenko said.

The Russian border guards that are deployed mainly along Armenia’s frontier with Turkey and Iran’say they detained 31 persons attempting to enter the country illegally last year. Eleven of them tried to do so by air–according figures released by the Russian border guard command in Yerevan.

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