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Fighting Continues In Tajikistan

Dushanbe, July 26 (RFE/RL) -- Fighting between government troops and the Islamic opposition continues in Tajikistan today, and there were reports of casualties among government forces.

Itar-Tass quoted Nikolai Scherbatov, Tajikistan's deputy defense minister, as saying fresh clashes were reported in the Tavildara region, some 200 kilometers east of Dushanbe.

Two government troops were killed in fighting in the area since a ceasefire was agreed last week, he said. The ceasefire extends an often-violated 1994 truce until the end of this year. Scherbatov said he is pessimistic "about the ceasefire prospects."

Gerd Merrem, the United Nations envoy to Tajikistan, said yesterday that his observers were not able to reach the Tavildara region to monitor the ceasefire.

According to Sherbatov, fighting prevented the release of 26 Tajik government prisoners of war by the opposition, due to take place today.

Meanwhile, the Defense Ministry said Tajik opposition fighters attacked last night the regional administrative centre of Dzhirgatal, in the north of the republic. It said two Tajik soldiers were wounded. No losses in the opposition units were reported. The report could not be independently confirmed.