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Tajik Forces Continue Operation Against Insurgents

DUSHANBE -- Tajik officials claim they have stabilized the situation in the eastern Tavil-Dara district where fighting between security forces and Islamic insurgents has raged in recent weeks, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

But an RFE/RL correspondent in Tavil-Dara has said police are manning checkpoints and many civilians have fled the area because fighting continues in the nearby mountainous villages of the district.

Tajik officials say 10 people have died in the fighting and that some 120 people were detained, including six Afghan citizens.

The government insists the fighting is against drug traffickers and calls the operation "Drug 2009."

But many observers believe Tajik forces are battling Islamic insurgents largely from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, confusion surrounds the death last week of former Emergency Situations Minister Mirzo Ziyoev.

On July 12, Tajik authorities said Ziyoev -- who led the United Opposition forces during the Tajik civil war -- had been arrested because he had joined illegal armed groups.

The government later said Ziyoev was killed on July 11 when an armed group attacked him as he travelled to negotiate with insurgents.

But on July 15, Ziyoev's son, Saidahmad, told Tajik TV that his father was not arrested and went to the negotiations to try to get the armed groups to leave Tavil-Dara.