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Tajikistan Frees Only Woman Among Arrested Islamic Party Leaders

Tajikistan has released from prison the only woman among several high-ranking officials of the banned Islamic Renaissance Party (HNIT), her family says.

Zurafo Rahmoni, who had been serving a two-year sentence, was released on September 5 according to a mass amnesty, the family said on September 6.

Rahmoni, an adviser to the HNIT leadership, was arrested along with 13 other party leaders last year.

The group was accused of conspiring with former Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda in a supposed armed bid to seize power in early September 2015.

Tajik officials said Nazarzoda led attacks on a police station and an arsenal that killed at least 26 people. He was reportedly killed in an operation by government forces.

The authorities blamed the HNIT for organizing the mutiny and banned the party as an "extremist and terrorist organization."

Two deputy heads of the party were sentenced to life in prison, while 11 other high-ranking party officials were sentenced to terms ranging from 14 to 28 years.

Party leader Muhiddin Kabiri, who now lives in exile, has denied the accusation.

The mass amnesty, which affects more than 12,000 people, was not extended to the other jailed party leaders, who remain in prison.