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Ukraine Says Deported Uzbeks Linked To Al-Qaeda


http://gdb.rferl.org/9bea6002-3fd9-47e5-9940-fd360cc5e54d_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/9bea6002-3fd9-47e5-9940-fd360cc5e54d_mw800_mh600.jpg (RFE/RL) 1 March 2006 -- Ukraine's Security Service says 10 Uzbek asylum-seekers who were recently deported were members of an Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group.

Maryna Ostapenko, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU), said the men were members of the militant Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, allegedly linked to Al-Qaeda.

The claim could not be independently confirmed, but appeared aimed at blunting international criticism over the refugees' forced return.

The 10 Uzbeks arrived in Ukraine last year, after the Uzbek government cracked down on protesters in Andijon in May. They were deported two weeks ago for alleged illegal migration.

Human rights groups and international organizations have criticized the deportation.

(AP)
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