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Tajikistan: Security Forces Storm Prison

Prague, 17 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Tajik security forces have stormed a prison near the northern Tajikistan city of Khujand, ending an inmate uprising.

Tajikistan's Interior Ministry says there was no bloodshed. But our correspondent in Khujand quotes local authorities as saying 17 people were killed and an official at the city morgue tells our correspondent that up to 40 people were killed. Security forces have surrounded local hospitals to prevent reporters or relatives entering.

Our correspondent reports that among those reported killed was Ikrom Ashurov. Ashurov was a leader of last Spring's demonstrations in northern Tajikistan, which focused on efforts to include other opposition forces -- the so-called internal opposition -- in talks between the government and the mainly Islamic opposition.

The prison uprising began as information circulated that some inmates being held awaiting trial were to be tranferred to southern Tajikistan, where prison conditions are known to be worse.