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Tajik Official Says Security Stabilizing In East

Former minister Mirzo Ziyoev was killed by 'militants' this month
Former minister Mirzo Ziyoev was killed by 'militants' this month
DUSHANBE -- Tajik Interior Minister Abdurahim Qahhorov said the situation has stabilized in the country's eastern Tavil-Dara district thanks to the government's military operations there, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Security in the region has deteriorated in recent months, with government forces battling what the authorities have described as drug-trafficking gangs.

Qahhorov said that during several weeks of fighting at least nine armed militants were killed and more than 100 were detained. He also said three or four militants are hiding but security forces are searching for them.

Qahhorov said that on July 16 at the Blue Lake checkpoint, 130 kilometers east of Dushanbe, Tajik forces killed five Russian citizens who came to Tajikistan from St. Petersburg in April.

The Interior Ministry previously said that five other Russian citizens who are suspected of involvement in the drug business and terrorism were detained in Dushanbe.

Qahhorov noted the mountainous territory in some parts of the Tajik-Afghan border and admitted that some militants from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) could have crossed into Tajikistan.

Tajik officials also say that four Tajik and Uzbek citizens who illegally entered Tajikistan from Afghanistan have been detained.

In the first six months of 2009, Qahhorov said that Tajik forces arrested 19 suspected members of the banned Hizb-ut Tahrir and eight suspected IMU members.

Meanwhile, Qahhorov said it is unclear who killed former Emergency Situations Minister Mirzo Ziyoev, who served in the 1990s as the commander of Tajik opposition forces during the country's civil war.

Ziyoev was killed on July 11, and the Interior Ministry said Mirzoev was killed by militants he went to ask them to lay down their weapons.