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Tajikistan: Rebel Warlord Demands Withdrawal

Dushanbe/Prague, 15 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - Tajik rebel warlord, Mahmud Khodoberdiyev, says he will renew hostilities if government troops are not withdraw from around his southern stronghold in Kurgan-Teppe (Kurgan Tyube).

Khodoberdiyev told RFE/RL today that Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov had broken an agreement to withdraw government forces from Kurgan-Teppe. The Tajik warlord told AFP that government tanks and soldiers had taken up positions around the town this morning. An ITAR-TASS correspondent on the scene reports seeing government military forces in the region. The agency quoted Khodoberdiyev as saying his fighters have taken up defense positions in the stronghold in anticipation of a possible government attack. ITAR-TASS says the situation remains tense in Kurgan Teppe but reports no fighting.

The agency said negotiations between Khodoberdiyev and a senior commander of the Russian-led peacekeeping force had failed. TASS said today's talks lasted just five minutes. No reason was given for the collapse of negotiations.