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Tajik Prison Escapee Killed In Gun Battle

DUSHANBE -- Tajik authorities say they have killed an inmate who escaped along with 24 others from a Dushanbe prison last month, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Nozirjon Buriev, spokesman of Tajikistan's Committee of National Security, said on September 27 that Rahmiddin Azizov was killed the previous day in the village of Sebzor, in the Faizobod district some 70 kilometers east of Dushanbe.

Buriev said that a previous attempt on September 18 to arrest Azizov -- who was convicted of belonging to an organized criminal group, kidnapping, and plotting to overthrow the government -- failed after Azizov injured two security officers and escaped.

Buriev said Azizov also resisted arrest on September 26 but was killed by security forces. He said Azizov was carrying an automatic weapon and money.

Azizov is the first fugitive from the August 22 jailbreak to have been killed. Seven others have been apprehended.

Former Guantanamo prison inmate Ibrahim Nasridinnov, one of three people thought to have organized the escape, was captured by security forces in the Vahdat district, about 30 kilometers east of Dushanbe, on September 2. And four days later Abdurasul Mirzoev was caught near the Faizobod district.

The 52-year-old Mirzoev -- the brother of General Ghaffor Mirzoev -- was sentenced to 30 years in prison after being detained and extradited from the United Arab Emirates earlier this year. He was convicted of illegal possession of weapons, robbery, and plotting to overthrow the government.

Two fugitives were captured in a separate raid on September 10 and two more three days later after a shootout. A few days later Russian citizen Ali Aliev was arrested.

The 17 other escapees, among them three Russian citizens, four Afghans and two Uzbeks, are still at large. Many of the fugitives were suspected members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan militant group.