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Violence in Tajikistan unsettles Australia ahead World Cup qualifier

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Football Federation Australia (FFA), the national football body, is monitoring the security situation in Tajikistan ahead of their FIFA World Cup qualifier in Dushanbe after 10 people were killed in violence in the former Soviet state on Friday.
At least eight policemen and two gunmen were killed in the Tajik capital and the adjacent city of Vahdat in armed attacks. Local authorities blamed the incidents on forces loyal to the country’s deputy defence minister.
Tajikistan, an impoverished Muslim nation of eight million and the poorest former Soviet state, is still volatile after a 1992-97 civil war that killed tens of thousands.
Australia are scheduled to play Tajikistan in Dushanbe on Monday.
“FFA’s advance party has been in Dushanbe for several days and have been liaising with the authorities in Tajikistan,” an FFA spokesperson said on Saturday. “At this stage the situation in Dushanbe remains calm. Businesses, government services and the airport are operating as normal.
“The Socceroos will arrive in Dushanbe today (Saturday) and begin preparations as planned.
“FIFA has been in constant contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Asian Football Confederation and FIFA. Everything is proceeding towards the match being played as scheduled on Tuesday.”

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Players’ association Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) said it was also “closely monitoring” events in the troubled Central Asian nation. “The PFA will continue to work with FFA and engage with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs to ensure the safety of the players,” a PFA spokesman said.
The unrest prompted the US embassy in Dushanbe to shut, and a statement on its website warned that the incidents “may be precursors to other acts of violence”.
Australia, who beat Bangladesh 5-0 on Thursday, are top of Group B in Asian qualifying for the 2018 World Cup finals.

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