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Tajikistan Claims Militant Leader Killed

Abdullo Rakhimov (also known as Mullo Abdullo)

Abdullo Rakhimov (also known as Mullo Abdullo)

DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's Interior Ministry says the country's most wanted man, militant leader Abdullo Rahimov, has been killed, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Ministry spokesman Madmadullo Asadulloev told RFE/RL today that Rahimov, widely known as Mullo Abdullo, was killed along with 10 of his followers during a search operation by government forces for militants east of Dushanbe.

Asadulloev said Mullo Abdullo was killed on April 14 in the operation in the village of Samsoliq in the Nurobod district, some 135 kilometers east of the capital.

He gave no other details about the incident.

Authorities say Mullo Abdullo and his followers were behind the September attack on Tajik Army forces in Kamarob Gorge in the eastern Rasht district in which at least 26 soldiers died.

In recent months, officials have said several times that the operation in the Rasht Valley was over, but then admitted it was continuing.

In January, one of the suspected attackers, Mullo Abdullo associate Alovuddin Davlatov (nicknamed Ali Bedaki), and seven of his armed followers were killed in a controversial operation by government forces in the village of Runob, but Mullo Abdullo who is believed to be Al-Qaeda's man in Tajikistan, was not found.

Mullo Abdullo never accepted the peace agreement of 1997 that ended Tajikistan's civil war.

Two other former opposition commanders, Shoh Iskandarov and Mirzokhuja Ahmadov, helped government forces during the operation in Rasht.

The Interior Ministry announced earlier this week that Iskandarov, who has the military rank of colonel, has been appointed deputy head of the Interior Ministry office in Rasht in acknowledgement of his role in the operation.