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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Uzbeks Work and Play as War Flares Up Just Over the Border

TERMEZ, Uzbekistan-- The teahouses and bazaars were busy making a buck and newlyweds toasted happiness on the Uzbek frontier on Tuesday despite explosions and reports of Taliban fighters massing over the border in Afghanistan.

The town of Termez, separated from Taliban forces by a narrow strip of land and the Amu Darya River, even had time to go on sprucing itself up for 2,500th anniversary of its reputed founding next month. Laborers worked against a deadline to complete a grandiose domed museum and a theater.

Some peasants selling fruit and spices in a bustling market said they had heard sounds like bombs going off coming from the Taliban-held city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Others were more concerned to coax foreigners to buy their produce.

Launch pad for the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and at the crossroads between Europe and Asia for centuries, this town of 120,000 has seen it all before.

"As you see, it's all quiet in our town. Life takes its normal course, people work and hold merry weddings every day," said Mayor Abduraim Choryev.

Hundreds of raucous guests danced and sang at the wedding party of Oibek and his wife Mokhichikhra in central Termez on Monday night.

Relatives of the 22-year-old newlyweds said the wedding acquired special importance "under the current circumstances."

"I only want peace in this world," said Kurbonai, mother of the bride. "May Allah endow the Taliban with brains and stop this war."

For all the pious Muslim sentiments, vodka and beer flowed freely. Uzbek women, their faces uncovered, chatted and danced with clean-shaven men.