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Tajik Forces Continue Search For Militant Leaders


Tajik President Emomali Rahmon talked tough at his annual cabinet meeting on January 17.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon talked tough at his annual cabinet meeting on January 17.

DUSHANBE -- Tajik government forces continue to hunt for followers of militant commander Alovuddin Davlatov in Tajikabad, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

The effort is part of months-long counterterrorism operations that have cost dozens of Tajik soldiers their lives.

Tajikistan's president, Emomali Rahmon, this week used a cabinet meeting to order Tajikistan's "power" ministries to step up the fight against organized crime, religious extremism, and terrorism.

He also rebuffed perceived pressure for government-level sackings over miscues in the counterterrorism campaign.

Abdughaffor Amonov, deputy head of the Interior Ministry in Tajikabad, which borders the Rasht district 200 kilometers east of Dushanbe, told RFE/RL that government forces were searching for Muhammadkarim Ibrohimov (nicknamed Kamol), who joined an armed group headed by Davlatov (a.k.a. Ali Bedaki).

Ibrohimov, 35, was born in the village of Mullo Temur in Tajikabad. Amonov rejected as unfounded reports that another militant leader, Abdullo Rahimov (nicknamed Mullo Abdullo), is also hiding in the area.

Amonov said Ibrohimov and some five or six other former inhabitants of the Tajikabad district were trained at Islamic extremist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and want to destabilize eastern Tajikistan.

The Tajik military's counterterrorism operation in Rasht began in mid-September and has led to the deaths of at least 60 soldiers, including 25 killed in an attack on September 19.

The Interior and Defense ministries believe former United Tajik Opposition (UTO) fighter Mullo Abdullo and Alik Bedaki were behind that attack.

In early January, the Interior Ministry said Bedaki and seven other militants were killed in an operation in the village of Runob in Rasht. About 100 people -- military, militants, and civilians -- have been killed in the Rasht area since September.

Speaking at a government session this week to review the past year, Rahmon pressed the countries Interior and Defense ministries to step up the battle to curb extremism, criminality, and terrorism. But he stopped short of senior-level personnel changes.

Some Tajik experts had anticipated that Rahmon would fire some ministers for alleged mistakes and miscalculations made during the military operation in Rasht.
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