Looking for Enemies in Tajikistan’s Rasht Valley
It would be much simpler if all of Tajikistan’s former opposition commanders would just admit they are working in cahoots against the government and are responsible for this week’s slaughter of 25 soldiers in the eastern Rasht district. But Dushanbe isn’t waiting for their confession. Tajik authorities have decided on their culprit and shot up his house on September 22, killing at least five and sending everyone else fleeing for the mountains. If they didn’t have a reason to fight, they do now.True, the house’s owner, Mirzokhuja Ahmadov, is regularly fingered for anti-government activities. A commander during Tajikistan’s 1992-1997 civil war, which left tens of thousands dead, he has lived an uneasy peace since. He’s one of the many former commanders promised a place in the government after the 1997 peace treaty, only to be squeezed out later. It is unclear if he survived the rocket assault on his home. Either way, this looks like an operation for kid gloves lest the government start a conflict it cannot finish:
Sources inside the Rasht district, which is about 200 kilometers east of Dushanbe, told RFE/RL that after the attack on Ahmadov's house another former opposition commander, Shoh Iskandarov, had reportedly joined the militants.Ahmadov told RFE/RL on September 21 that government forces began searching the houses of former United Tajik Opposition (UTO) fighters in the Rasht district after a September 19 attack on a military convoy that killed at least 25 soldiers.
Last week, admittedly before the devastating ambush on the government soldiers, authorities promised Ahmadov and Iskandarov safety, that operations in the region were not directed against them, but against a former, elusive colleague: Mullo Abdullo.Now Ahmadov – who says he was at home farming during the September 19 troop slaughter – is harboring Abdullo, authorities claim. It’s not that we never trust the government, but Dushanbe has a ham-fisted way of finding evidence whenever it is convenient. For example:“Mirzokhuja Ahmadov was planning attacks in Dushanbe,” Asia-Plus reports:
Large amount of firearms were found in his house and seized – six machine guns, three grenades, 10 mines, six thousand rounds, three units of explosive devices each with 20 kilograms of TNT, which were supposed to be used in terrorist attacks in the capital.
Great idea to keep that stuff in such an obvious place, Ahmadov. Truth in these parts is almost as intangible as Abdullo, especially when the phones have been shut off for “technical reasons.”