Two towns named Ishkashim stand opposite each other on the Pyanj River, which marks the border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Against a stark backdrop of daunting peaks and dusty plains, life here, as documented in this photo essay by Diana Markosian, is marked by constant uncertainty.
Since surrendering to authorities over two months ago, Tajik commander Tolib Ayombekov has lived in relative comfort at home in Khorog, surrounded by supporters and able to move freely about town in a white Mercedes sedan.
Tajikistan’s most active opposition party has been hit by a spate of attacks in recent weeks, at least two of which appear linked to late July clashes between government security troops and armed groups in the restive autonomous province of Gorno-Badakhshan.
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.
With armed groups in Tajikistan’s restive east ignoring demands to surrender their weapons, authorities in Dushanbe may find themselves hard-pressed to avoid fanning a local insurgency. Any new government attack could prompt a cycle of violence that proves difficult to contain, experts caution.
Government forces have recently clashed with armed groups in Tajikistan's remote Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province, a mountainous region along the Afghan border that has existed largely outside Dushanbe's control for decades. RFE/RL's Robert Coalson takes a quick look at Badakhshan and the wider impact of unrest there.