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Tajik Government Offers Amnesty To Armed Insurgents

Shekhon Salimzoda, Prosecutor General in Tajikistan
Shekhon Salimzoda, Prosecutor General in Tajikistan
DUSHANBE -- The Tajik government has offered an amnesty to armed groups fighting government troops in the east of the country if they declare a cease-fire, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik Prosecutor General Sherkhon Salimzoda announced on October 12 that President Emomali Rahmon has offered full amnesty to all armed rebels on the condition they stop fighting government troops.

Salimzoda added that the Tajik parliament should enact legislation that would formalize Rahmon's offer.

Tajik troops, police, and security forces have been fighting against an unknown number of armed rebels in the eastern Rasht Province for the past several weeks. The situation deteriorated after the insurgents killed 26 Tajik servicemen troops on September 19.

Dushanbe-based analyst Hikmatullo Saifullozoda, of the Dialogue Analytical Center, told RFE/RL the president's offer shows the government has begun to realize there is no military solution to the fighting. He said the amnesty offer is also an indication of the authorities' readiness to start negotiations.

Another independent analyst in Dushanbe, Rashid Abdullo, said the offer proves the government is too weak to fight the armed resistance.

The Tajik authorities said earlier they think former opposition field commanders from the Tajik Civil War in the mid-1990s are behind the rebel group in Rasht. That hypothesis has not been confirmed by any independent sources.

Tajik parliament speaker Shukurjon Zuhurov, who was elected from a constituency in Rasht, has gone to the region.