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Officials Say Tajik Officer Killed During Anti-Rebel Operation

KHORUGH, Tajikistan -- The burial of a Tajik Army officer in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province has increased speculation about an anti-rebel operation in the eastern part of the country, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik Defense Ministry officials at the funeral told RFE/RL that Abribod Alishaev was killed during a special operation against illegal armed groups in the village of Saghirdasht in Tavildara Province.

Badakhshan military commissioner Zafar Davlatov rejected reports that Alishaev was accidentally killed by friendly fire.

Tajik officials have denied the presence of illegal armed groups in Tavildara, saying that the special operation in the region is aimed at combatting drug dealers.

But there have been reports in recent weeks of ongoing clashes between Tajik troops and Islamist rebels who allegedly entered Tajikistan from Afghanistan.