Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 77

Dushanbe law enforcement authorities have decided to treat last January’s rail collision in Leninabad region as a premeditated act of sabotage. The authorities announced on April 20 that they had recently detained three local suspects, who will stand trial in the Leninabad regional court.

Seventeen people died and twenty-six were injured in the January collision, which involved an Uzbek passenger train transiting Tajikistan. At that time, the Tajik authorities ruled out “terrorism.” They have now apparently reversed that judgment, without explaining why “terrorists” would select an Uzbek train as their target. (Radio Dushanbe, April 20).

Neighboring Uzbekistan seeks to exercise a degree of political influence in Leninabad region, many of whose residents are ethnic Uzbeks. Like the recent terrorism trial which resulted in six death sentences and nine prison sentences against Leninabad residents (see Monitor, March 13 and April 3 and 21), the new case reflects the chronic tensions between the southern-dominated Dushanbe government and the northern Leninabad region–the country’s demographic center of gravity. — VS

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