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Tajikistan

Government Ends Operations In Eastern Tajikistan

Wounded Tajik Troops Rushed To Hospital After Clashesi
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July 25, 2012
Tajik servicemen stood guard at a hospital in the capital, Dushanbe, as troops wounded in an operation in Badakhshon Province were brought in for emergency treatment. At least 12 troops and 30 militants were killed in the military operation targeting a group suspected of involvement in the killing of a top security official. Video by RFE/RL's Tajik Service

WATCH: Wounded Tajik troops are rushed to hospital after clashes in the east of the country

By RFE/RL's Tajik Service
Tajikistan's military has ended operations in the eastern province of Badakhshan. 
 
Earlier on July 25, the Tajik government called for a four-hour cease-fire to negotiate with those involved in hostilities in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province. Dushanbe also said those who lay down their arms and surrender would not be punished
 
Dozens are reported to have died in fighting that broke out after the government moved forces to the region following the July 21 assassination of General Abdullo Nazarov, a regional head of the State Committee for National Security. 
 
The government said at least 12 soldiers and 30 militants were killed in fighting in the remote mountainous region on July 24. 
 
The Tajik Service reports that at least 30 civilians were killed in Khorugh, the provincial capital, by unknown snipers.  
 
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has expressed concern over the "reports of civilian casualties" in the remote mountainous region. 
 
The head of the Gorno-Badakhshan regional government, Qodiri Qosim, said Tajik President Emomali Rahmon declared the cease-fire on July 25 after sending officials led by his defense minister, Sherali Khairulloev, to the region to negotiate. 
 
The government has described the armed fighters as "militants," but reportedly has offered its amnesty to all but four of the fighters if they lay down their weapons and surrender.
 
Among the four is Tolib Ayombekov, a former Islamic opposition fighter who received a post in the Interior Ministry then a senior position in the border guards after the civil war.
 
Tajik authorities blame Ayombekov for Nazarov's murder, charges Ayombekov denies. 
 
Restive Region

The government maintains only a tenuous hold over the remote Gorno-Badakhshan region, where the majority of the people are Shi'a of the Ismaili sect who sided with the opposition during Tajikistan's 1992-97 Civil War. 
 
The central government's relationship with the eastern region has grown worse in recent years, as government forces were repeatedly sent to Gorno-Badakhshan to rein in unrest and excesses committed by local officials.
 
Many local figures are, like Ayombekov, former fighters for the opposition who received posts under the terms of the 1997 peace accord that ended the civil war. 
 
Nazarov, the slain general, was another former opposition fighter who received a state position.
 
Allegations about his murder have revolved around reputed smuggling operations in the region, which borders Afghanistan and China.
 
Other fighters in eastern Tajikistan, however, maintained and even increased their personal influence over local affairs. 
 
Government forces were sent into the region in 2008 amid growing discontent that spawned demonstrations in the regional capital Khorugh, and again in 2010 during protests that centered on the actions of a regional prosecutor.
 
One security operation in the Rasht area in 2010 to recapture escaped prisoners led to months of fighting in the mountainous terrain controlled by former opposition field commanders who did not accept Tajikistan's 1997 peace accord. The clashes left scores of government troops and militants dead.
 
This latest fighting has prompted the Ismailis to claim they are once again victims of government repression. 
 
Besides protests in Khorugh, Ismailis have staged protests in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and at Tajikistan's embassy in Moscow against the government's military operation in Gorno-Badakhshan. 
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