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Tajikstan: Captive Reporters Say Gunmen Shoot Hostage

Dushanbe, 13 February 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Two Russian journalists being held hostage by Tajik gunmen report that the gunmen's leader executed one of his hostages this evening. They say the dead man is a U.N. military observer, but have not identified him.

Bakhram Sadirov was holding 14 hostages kidnapped over the course of this week. They were eight U.N. workers, four Russian journalists and their driver and Tajikistan's security minister.

An Itar-Tass correspondent, herself one of the hostages being held near Obigarm, 80 km east of the capital, Dushanbe, reported the shooting of the observer by satellite phone to her office in Moscow and to the Russian embassy in Dushanbe. Another hostage working for Interfax news agency also telephoned from Tajikstan to report the shooting. There's no immediate word from the U.N.

The Interfax captive (Suraye Sobirova) says Sadirov is threatening to execute other hostages if his demands are not rapdily met.

Earlier today, the Tajik government gave into Sadirov's demands to bring 40 guerrilla fighters home from neighboring Afghanistan. Sadirov had promised to free the hostages once the guerrillas were brought back, but Tajik government spokesman Zafar Saidov said the two sides have been unable to agree on a procedure for the hostages-for-rebels swap.