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Tajikistan: Government Condemns Opposition Leader's Murder

Dushanbe, 22 September 1998 (RFE/RL) - Tajikistan's government said today the murder of a prominent Tajik opposition leader was an attempt to undermine peace in the country while the opposition branded it "a terrorist act." Otakhon Latifi, a member of the joint government-opposition National Reconciliation Commission, was gunned down earlier today as he was leaving his home.

The commission was set up last year to monitor implementation of peace accords that put an end to years of bloody civil war in Tajikistan. Latifi, a former journalist, chaired a panel for legal issues under the commission. He had only returned to Tajikistan last year, after five years of exile in Iran.

No one has claimed responsibility for the killing and the motive behind it remains unclear.

The government in a statement called Latifi a "champion of peace" and said his murder was aimed at disrupting Tajikistan's uneasy peace process. United Tajik Opposition (UTO) spokesman Sultan Khamadov said the murder was a terrorist act aimed to mar the image of both the government and the opposition.