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Tajikistan: Islamist Fighters Enter Capital

Dushanbe, 5 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Over 200 opposition fighters entered Dushanbe today under terms of an agreement aimed at ending four years of civil war in Tajikistan.

A Reuters correspondent witnessed a column of ten trucks enter the city escorted by servicemen of the Russian-led peacekeeping force in armored vehicles and United Nations military observers. Two military helicopters circled overhead.

Richard Morjinsky, a U.N. military observer travelling with the column, told reporters that 206 fighters altogether had returned. Reuters said all fighters were armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, and some also carried rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The fighters, part of what is to be a 460-man force, are to serve as a protective guard for opposition members of the commission for national reconciliation. That body is a key power-sharing arrangement agreed in a peace deal signed in June.