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Tajik Defense Official Shot Dead

27 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- A senior Tajik army official was shot and killed by an unidentified assailant this morning in the capital Dushanbe, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported.

The chief spokesman for the Tajik Interior Ministry, Khudaynazar Assaev, confirmed that the head of Tajikistan's top military academy, Hokimshoh Hafizov, was dead.

Assaev said Hafizov was shot as he was leaving his home. Defense Minister Sherali Kheirulloiev held an emergency meeting this morning and ordered an investigation into the slaying.

President Imomali Rakhmonov reportedly called Kheirulloiev to ask for details about the case.

Hafizov, 42, had been the head of Tajikistan's military academy since 1998. The Defense Ministry said it would provide more information at a press conference later today.

Assassinations and revenge killings were a common occurrence in the years immediately following the implementation of the peace agreement singed in Moscow in 1979. But since 2001 they had fallen drastically.

(with additional agency reports)