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Kyrgyzstan: Militants From Tajikistan Take Over Village

Bishek, 23 August 1999 (RFE/RL) - A Kyrgyz presidential spokesman says a group of armed infiltrators from Tajikistan have seized control of the village of Zardaly in Kyrgyzstan and taken hostages. Spokesman Kanybek Imanaliyev told a news briefing in Bishkek today that the infiltrators arrived in the remote village last night. He said they also took over a smaller village (Archa-Bashy) nearby and the Altyn Jailoo gold mine. Among the hostages are a Kyrgyz Interior Ministry general, Anarbek Shamkeev, and four Japanese geologists. The spokesman said extra Kyrgyz troops have been ordered to the mountainous region close to the Kyrgyz-Tajik border. He said the government has also asked Uzbekistan for help. The latest infiltration follows a similar incident in Zardaly earlier this month, when gunmen thought to be Uzbek refugees crossed over from Tajikistan and seized the village. They later withdrew when Kyrgyz and Uzbek forces were dispatched to the area.