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Khorog protesters dispersing in exchange for govt troops pullout

August 23, 2012, 16:09 UTC+3

A week ago, the authorities promised to begin to withdraw extra troops, but only a paratrooper unit of the Defense Ministry has left the town so far

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DUSHANBE, August 23 (Itar-Tass) — The participants in the unsanctioned rally in the Tajik town of Khorog agreed to stop their action on Thursday in exchange for the withdrawal of government troops. The accord was reached during the talks between the government forces headquarters and lawmakers, civil society representatives of the Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region, and a group of protesters, a source close to the negotiations told Itar-Tass.

Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Khairullayev, Interior Minister Ramazan Rakhimov and other law-enforcers addressed the rally. They noted that a group of investigators had opened a criminal case over the death of informal leader of Badakhshan, former Opposition field commander Imomnazar Imomnazarov, who had been blasted in his house in Khorob at dawn on August 22. "A thorough investigation will be carried out," Khairullayev assured civil society representatives at the talks.

It was the murder of the influential Badakhshan person that escalated tensions in the Khorog area and led to a new spiral of violence.

The government forces entered Badakhshan on July 22, following the murder of Tajik secret service general Abdullo Nazaov. A week ago, the authorities promised to begin to withdraw extra troops, but only a paratrooper unit of the Defense Ministry has left the town so far.

On Wednesday, two protesters were injured in Khorog as they tried to force their way into the building of the regional administration.

The former field commander's house was attacked at around 03:30 /02:30, Moscow time/, on August 22. A grenade was thrown into the house first, whose explosion was heard by many neighbours, and then automatic fire began. Imomnazarov was killed outright, and his younger brother was wounded and rushed to hospital.

Imomnazarov was one of the four influential Badakhshanskaya commanders of illegal paramilitary formations, whom the Prosecutor General’s Office accused of murders, attacks on law-enforcers, hostage taking, drug trafficking and precious metals and tobacco contraband.

After the murder of head of the regional department of the State National Security Committee General Abdullo Nazarov on July 21, a special operation was carried out in Khorog with the participation of army units. Thirty militants were destroyed, and another 40 were captured. The government reported the loss of 17 troops. The society was spilt over the involvement of the army in the operation, and President Emomali Rakhmon announced moratorium on combat.

The authorities began talks with the field commanders, initially through mediators, and then directly. In exchange for voluntary laying down their arms and turning in the persons suspected of assassinating the Tajik secret service General, the president guaranteed an amnesty. Emomali Rakhmon planned a visit to Khorog on August 25-26.

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