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Terror Threat Prompts Uzbek Security Alert

Uzbek authorities have been on edge for months, especially since a black flag resembling that of the Islamic State militant group was hung on an overpass in Tashkent in September.

Rapid reaction forces from Uzbekistan's National Security Service (SNB) and the Interior Ministry have been deployed in the Parkent district, some 20 kilometers outside Tashkent, after threats were made to blow up several buildings in the area.

RFE/RL's Uzbek Service, known locally as Ozodlik, reports that SNB chief Rustam Inoyatov and Interior Minister Adham Ahmadboyev have gone to the Parkent district to oversee the security operation.

On April 25, a leaflet was found plastered to the window of a secondary school in Parkent. The leaflet, in the Uzbek language but written in Arabic script, contained a threat to blow up the school.

Officials took the threat seriously, but some believe the message might have been a prank.

But, on April 27, more leaflets, placed in plastic bottles, were found in Parkent, at the Transportation and Services College, a kindergarten, and an apartment building. The leaflets said those buildings would be blown up also "in the coming days."

Roadside checkpoints have been established and cars are being stopped and searched. The buildings that the leaflets said would be targeted have been cordoned off and placed under 24-hour surveillance.

At the Transportation and Services College, sources told Ozodlik that the faculty has organized round-the-clock patrols of the campus area and police have been visiting the college regularly.

House searches that started after the first leaflet was found are continuing.

Uzbek authorities have been on edge for months now, fearing that, when foreign forces withdrew the bulk of their troops from Afghanistan, some of the problems in the neighboring country could spill across the border into Uzbekistan.

There have been previous bombings in Uzbekistan -- in 1999 in Tashkent and again in 2004, in both Tashkent and the ancient Silk Route city of Bukhara.

Last September a black flag resembling that of the Islamic State militant group was hung on an overpass in Tashkent.

And Uzbek authorities are acutely aware that the government's prime terror nemesis – the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan – has been active lately in at least five northern Afghan provinces bordering Central Asia.

-- Bruce Pannier with contributions by Farruh Yusupov from RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.​

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.


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