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Uzbek Authorities Claim Al-Qaeda Link To Attacks

Prague, 9 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbekistan's prosecutor-general today announced charges against 45 people so far in connection with deadly attacks last week and claimed he has evidence of a link between the Al-Qaeda terrorist network and the violence.

Rashitzhon Kadyrov told a news conference that a number of those charged "were prepared and trained by Arab instructors who were in turn trained in Al-Qaeda camps." He also said those behind the attacks were ideologically connected to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and also to the radical nonviolent Uzbek group Hizb ut-Tahrir, although scant evidence of such ties has been offered publicly.

"Fifty-four individuals have been apprehended on suspicion of involvement in the terrorist acts. Forty-five people have been charged and they are now under arrest, including fifteen women. The involvement of the remaining nine individuals detained is being investigated," Kadyrov said. "Some of the detained individuals have testified that they were trained in terrorist camps by Arab instructors who had previously trained Al-Qaeda militants."

Kadyrov said 412 people have been brought in for questioning and investigators have seized a large amount of weapons from some of those charged in the attacks.

Uzbek officials say that at least 47 people died, including 33 alleged radicals and 10 policemen, in four days of attacks that began on 28 March.

(For more on the bombings and their aftermath, see Terror In Uzbekistan.)

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