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Tajikistan: Rebels Release 25 Government Soldiers

Dushanbe, 17 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - A Tajik opposition commander has released 25 captured government troops as a goodwill measure aimed at consolidating the country's peace process.

ITAR-TASS today quotes the Russian ambassador to Tajikistan, Yevgeny Belov, as saying Mirzodzhag Ziyev had freed the soldiers yesterday in the eastern Tavildar region.

A Russian embassy diplomat in Dushanbe, Azim Yarokhmetov, told Reuters six ethnic Russians were among the freed captives.

The former combatants have exchanged several dozen prisoners in recent weeks. Also, ex-rebel leaders have arrived in Dushanbe to participate in a National Reconciliation Commission. The commission is part of the June peace accord that brought a formal end to Tajikistan's four-year conflict.

But around 300 opposition fighters are still believed to be held in government prisons. Some reports say that 100 to 200 government soldiers are held by the opposition.