Tajik Interior Ministry troops conducting exercises (file photo) (ITAR-TASS)
DUSHANBE, 23 June 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Officials in Dushanbe today reacted with confusion to media reports that Tajikistan recently sent an undercover into neighboring Uzbekistan to carry out terrorist attacks.
Tajik Foreign Ministry spokesman Igor Sattarov told RFE/RL's Uzbek Service the reports should be investigated and that, if accurate, appropriate measures would be taken.
A pro-government Uzbek website, press-uz.info, on June 22 reported that an ethnic Tajik had been arrested in the southern region of Surkhandarya and confessed to having been smuggled across the border to assassinate several people in Uzbekistan.
The man, whom the website identified as Murodullo Zhuraev, allegedly said he had been entrusted with this mission by a senior official in Tajikistan's Interior Ministry, Anvar Taghoimurodov. In comments made to RFE/RL's Tajik Service today, Taghoimurodov denied the Uzbek report as "groundless and slanderous."
Taghoimurodov said Zhuraev had been arrested in 2000 and jailed for 12 years after taking part in an antigovernment uprising in 1997.
Taghoimurodov did not say whether Zhurayev was released before his jail term expired, or whether he escaped.
Relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been traditionally tense since 1991.