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Tajikistan Asks Russia To Detain Suspected Islamic Militants

KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- Tajik officials have asked Russia to detain and deport 41 people suspected of belonging to the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik General Rauf Yusufov, the senior Interior Ministry official in Tajikistan's northern Sughd Province, said on April 28 that all of the suspects are from Sughd. He said most currently live in or near Moscow and maintain ties with IMU members inside Tajikistan.

Yusufov claimed that the Moscow-based suspects are raising funds to support the IMU in northern Tajikistan. He also alleged that they force Tajik labor migrants in Russia to join the IMU and to pay membership fees.

The IMU is known to have some support in northern Tajikistan, especially in the Isfara district that borders Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.

The Interior Ministry office in Sughd announced earlier this month that two suspected IMU activists had been deported from Russia.

During the Tajik Civil War (1992-1997), many IMU activists joined the United Tajik Opposition and fought against government forces. After the signing of the 1997 peace agreement ending the conflict, many of those IMU members moved to Afghanistan and joined armed Islamic groups.

Last year the head of the IMU in Isfara, Anvar Qayumov, was detained in Afghanistan and deported to Tajikistan where he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

At least 16 other suspected IMU members were jailed in Tajikistan last year, four of them for life.