KHORUGH, Tajikistan – Several thousand people have gathered in Tajikistan's eastern Gorno-Badakhshan region to protest the latest incident of bloodshed in the area.
The crowd massed in the city of Khorugh on August 22 after news emerged of the slaying of a former field commander who fought against the government in the 1992-97 Tajik Civil War.
The body of former rebel commander Imomnazar Imomnazarov was brought to a central square in Khorugh for onlookers to view.
Reports said that, as the crowd grew, members of the group threw rocks, smashing windows of the mayor's office and prompting police to fire warning shots in the air.
Two of the demonstrators were reportedly wounded when they joined a small group that attempted to force their way into the administrative building.
The demonstrators called on authorities to fulfill promises to ensure safety and stability in the region.
Some complained that the government had vowed an end to violence in Badakhshan, and that Imomnazarov's killing showed authorities were unable to maintain order.
Imomnazarov was reported to have been killed at his Badakhshan home by unknown assailants.
He had been wanted by authorities in connection with the killing of a top security official in the region on July 21.
The killing of General Abdullo Nazarov prompted the government to send troops to the Badakhshan, sparking fighting
that left some 70 people dead.
The Russian news agency ITAR-TASS quoted a "representative" of Tajikistan's security service in Badakhshan as saying Imomnazarov's home was attacked at 3:30 a.m. local time on August 22, and that neighbors heard the sound of a grenade exploding followed by shooting from automatic weapons.
It also reported that Imomnazarov's brother and several other people in the building were injured and brought to a local hospital.
The security force "representative" quoted by ITAR-TASS denied that government forces were involved in the attack on Imomnazarov's home.
According to Tajikistan's Asia-Plus news agency, Imomnazarov suffered from diabetes and recently had difficulties walking.
Under the terms of the 1997 peace accord that ended the Tajik Civil War, Imomnazarov was one of several former opposition field commanders who were granted an amnesty for crimes they allegedly committed during the conflict, and given state posts.
Other former opposition commanders have also been named as suspects in the July violence in Badakhshan.
With reporting by Asia-Plus, and ITAR-TASS