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Khorog protesters not to be prosecuted

August 23, 2012, 19:01 UTC+3

They will stop their unsanctioned rallies which have been held in the restive region since July 24

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DUSHANBE, August 23 (Itar-Tass) — The authorities of Tajikistan's Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous area, law-enforcers and civil society representatives signed an agreement on troops withdrawal from the region and exempting the participants in the unsanctioned rallies from criminal prosecution, sources close to the negotiations told Itar-Tass on Thursday.

The protesters will stop their unsanctioned rallies which have been held in the restive region since July 24. On that day, the government sent army units to the area to carry out a special operation to catch the suspected killer of Tajik secret service General Abdullo Nazarov and stop the lawlessness of local criminal leaders.

Tensions mounted after the violent death of informal leader of Badakhshan youths Imomnazar Imomnazarov, whom Tajik prosecutors called "a criminal leader and head of an organized criminal group." Unidentified assailants shot and killed him in his house on Tuesday.

A rally participant told Tass the protesters' representatives would "personally monitor the withdrawal of the government troops from Gorny Badakhshan."

According to various estimates, there are 2,000 to 3,000 troops in Khorog. Two protesters were reportedly injured on Wednesday in clash with police as they were trying to force their way into the building of the regional administration.

On Thursday, speaker of the upper house of parliament Makhmadsaid Ubaidullayev told Tajik bloggers that "certain forces in Tajikistan are purposefully fanning enmity among the country's population, pursuing their selfish goals. We're all Tajiks we're one country and as long as we're disunited, we'll always have problems," he stated calling for "respecting the supremacy of law and not dividing people by the regional sign."

Earlier in the day, Tajik Defense Minister Sherali Khairullayev, Interior Minister Ramazan Rakhimov and other law-enforcers said a group of investigators had opened a criminal case over Imomnazarov's death.

"A thorough investigation will be carried out," Khairullayev assured civil society representatives at the talks.

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 Badakhshan 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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