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Tajikistan Confirms Death Of Mutinous Former Deputy Defense Minister

  • RFE/RL's Tajik Service

Former Deputy Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda (file photo)

Former Deputy Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda (file photo)

Tajikistan's Interior Ministry has confirmed that mutinous former Deputy Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda has been killed along with 10 of his supporters during a battle in the Romit Gorge area to the east of Dushanbe.​

In a joint statement with Tajikistan's state intelligence committee, the Interior Ministry said Nazarzoda and a group of his followers were surrounded by government security forces about 150 kilometers east of Dushanbe and were killed after refusing to surrender.

Tajikistan's government blamed Nazarzoda and his fighters for attacks on September 4 against a police station and an arsenal near Dushanbe that killed 26 people, including nine police officers and 17 militants.

President Emomali Rahmon dismissed Nazarzoda from his deputy minister’s post after those attacks and accused him of "committing a crime."

Nazarzoda was a commander within an antigovernment alliance called the United Tajik Opposition during Tajikistan's civil war in the 1990s.

ALSO READ: Death Of A Fugitive: Abduhalim Nazarzoda

He led an Islamist militia faction during the war, but joined Tajikistan's security forces in June 1997 after the government and opposition signed an accord to end the five-year conflict.

Nazarzoda's appointment as deputy minister in January 2014 was an extension of that 1997 power-sharing deal with Rahmon's government.

Earlier reports on September 16 from Tajikistan said a commander of the government's elite Alfa special-forces unit, Colonel Rustam Amakiev, was also killing in the fighting in the Romit Gorge area.

Another fighter from the special-forces team was also killed in a gunbattle there that began late on September 15.

The Interior Ministry said two of its security officers were wounded in the battle.

Violence between Nazarzoda's followers and government forces since September 4 has sparked fresh fears of unrest and concerns that the cease-fire accord that ended Tajikistan's civil war could unravel.

Rahmon described Nazarzoda's fighters as terrorists who aimed to undermine his rule.

He has accused the group of having ideological ties to the Islamic State (IS) group, which controls large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Tajik authorities say they've arrested scores of Nazarzoda's followers since the September 4 attacks -- seizing more than 500 weapons, ammunition, and several vehicles from the group.

Tajik security officials initially said as many as 130 of Nazarzoda's supporters had fled with him toward Romit Gorge, but they subsequently revised that figure down to just seven or eight people.

With reporting by AFP, BBC, RIA Novosti, Lenta.ru, and Interfax
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