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Tajik Official Dismisses Fears Of Militant Attacks On Kyrgyzstan

DUSHANBE -- A senior Tajik security official says Kyrgyzstan's concerns about the infiltration of Islamic militants from Tajikistan into Kyrgyzstan are unfounded, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik General Abdullo Nazarov, the head of the National Security Ministry's office in the southeastern region of Badakhshan, which borders northern Afghanistan and southern Kyrgyzstan, told RFE/RL by phone from Khorugh that such worries by Bishkek are baseless.

Sultonbek Ayjigitov, the head of Kyrgyzstan's Batken region, warned last week about the possible infiltration of militants from Tajikistan and proposed additional security measures be taken along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

And last month, several other top Kyrgyz officials noted the presence of Islamic militants in northern Afghanistan and warned they might stage cross-border attacks on Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan.

Additionally, Afghan security forces have recently killed or detained several suspected members of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) in districts close to the Tajik border.

But Nazarov said he had the impression that Kyrgyz security officials have no idea what is happening in the region, and when they see a report about possible extremist attacks they "hit the panic button."

Mohammad Roziq Yaqubi, the security chief in Afghanistan's Konduz Province, confirmed the presence of suspected IMU militants in that region.

He said Islamic militants from Central Asia have no bases in the town of Konduz, but about 20 IMU fighters may be hiding in villages around the province.

Yaqubi said that when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, the IMU had its headquarters in Konduz and some IMU members might still have friends there who could provide a "safe haven."

Tajik analyst Qosim Bekmuhammad believes that fake reports about "possible cross-border attacks" are published for political purposes.

He says Russia wants to validate and expand its military presence in the strategically important Ferghana Valley, and that "by spreading warnings about attacks, some Kyrgyz officials are playing into Russia's hands."