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Tajik Security Forces Search Homes Of Former UTO Fighters

GHARM, Tajikistan -- A former Tajik opposition commander says government forces have continued to surround and search the houses of ex-opposition fighters living in the central Rasht district, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Mirzokhuja Ahmadov told RFE/RL that government forces began searching the houses of former fighters from the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) soon after the deadly attack in the nearby Kamarob Gorge on September 19, in which at least 25 police officers and soldiers were killed by unknown assailants.

The UTO fought in the 1992-97 Tajik civil war against the administration of President Emomali Rahmon.

Ahmadov said this morning that government forces surrounded the houses of some former UTO fighters in the village of Takoba and then searched them. He said at least 30 former UTO fighters were afraid of being arrested and were hiding in the nearby mountains.

Ahmadov warned that former opposition fighters could join the rebel group that was responsible for the attack on government forces because of the actions of the government.

Tajik Defense Ministry spokesman Faridun Mahmadaliev confirmed that house searches were carried out and noted that government forces were operating according to intelligence information they received and did not break any laws.

Mahmadaliev told RFE/RL that the task of government forces was not to arrest former opposition fighters but to detain the people responsible for the September 19 attack.

Meanwhile, on September 20 local council deputy Husnuddin Davlatov, who disappeared in Dushanbe on September 10, was shown on state television.

He said he was arrested by government forces because he had supplied his brother, Alovuddin Davlatov, with explosives and military uniforms.

Husnuddin Davlatov added that his brother organized a training camp for local and foreign youth in which he taught them how to carry out terrorist attacks. He said he was sorry for his actions and urged his brother to stop fighting and to surrender to the authorities.

The Rasht district council today stripped Husnuddin Davlatov of his immunity as a politician, allowing him to be prosecuted.

Husnuddin Davlatov was one of two members of the Islamic Renaissance Party on the Rasht district council.

Rasht authorities today issued a curfew from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m.