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Tajikistan Confirms Extradition Of Terror Suspects To Kyrgyzstan

Abdurahim Qahhorov (file photo)
Abdurahim Qahhorov (file photo)
DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan has confirmed that two men who were detained earlier this month in northern Tajikistan have been handed over to Kyrgyz authorities at Bishkek's request, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Tajik Interior Minister Abdurahim Qahhorov said on July 20 the two were arrested in the village of Zideh, Sughd Province, in connection with an attack in May on a police checkpoint on the Dushanbe-Khujand highway.

Two of the attackers, Abdurahim Umarov and Abdurahmon Vahhobov, residents of Sughd Province, were killed by police during a shootout.

Qahhorov also said the investigation into the murder of special police unit (OMON) commander Colonel Oleg Zakharchenko has been reopened. Zakharchenko was reportedly killed by police officers in the eastern Rasht Province in February 2008.

The killing is controversial because Mahmadkhuja Ahmadov, who was the head of the police anti-organized crime unit in Rasht at that time, said Zakharchenko had tried to arrest the police officers and that led to an altercation in which Zakharchenko died. But some people who were with Zakharchenko at the time said he did not try to arrest them.

Following a visit to Rasht last year by Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, the murder investigation was suspended and Ahmadov resigned from his post.

On another issue, Qahhorov said that while it is possible that one or more Tajik citizens were involved in the violent ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan last month, it is clear that they would not have been acting on orders from the Tajik government.

Some Kyrgyz officials have said "Tajiks" were involved in fomenting the ethnic unrest last month that led to at least 316 people being killed.

Meanwhile, Interior Ministry spokesman Mahmadullo Asadullozoda said on July 20 that at the beginning of this year Interior Ministry officers detained an Uzbek citizen who was identified as Islam Niyozmatov.

Asadullozoda said Niyozmatov is a member of Al-Qaeda based in the northern Istaravshan district of Sughd Province. He added that five suspected members of extremist and terrorist groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda have been detained in Tajikistan this year.

Tajikistan political analyst Abdughani Mamadazimov told RFE/RL that local authorities refer to these people as members of Al-Qaeda in order to demonstrate their importance. But he said Al-Qaeda is not active on the right bank of the Amudarya River -- in contrast to local groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who do operate there.