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Supporters Of Slain Kyrgyz Imam Rally

The Kara-Suu rally today (RFE/RL) KARA-SUU, August 11, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Hundreds of followers of Mohammadrafiq Kamalov, a prominent ethnic Uzbek imam shot dead on August 6 by security forces, rallied today in Kara-Suu to protest his killing.

Security officials put the number of protesters at 600, while independent observers' estimates vary between 400 and 1,000.

Chanting "God is Great!" and waving placards that read "Islam is Truth!" and "We Need Justice," the crowd demanded that the Kyrgyz authorities end its claims that Kamalov was a terrorist.

Security officials initially said Kamalov -- also known as Rafiq Qori Kamoluddin -- was a member of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). They also said the imam and the two other alleged IMU members killed with him were plotting terrorist attacks in Kyrgyzstan.

But in a subsequent statement issued on August 9, the National Security Service suggested Kamalov may have been killed accidentally, while serving as a "human shield" for the two purported militants.

Kamalov was the imam of the largest mosque of Kara-Suu, a town that straddles the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border.

He was known for allowing members of Hizb ut-Tahrir -- another banned religious group – to pray at his mosque. However, he openly disagreed with the group's Islamist agenda.

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

RFE/RL Central Asia Report

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