Tajikistan’s Defense and Internal Affairs Ministries admitted yesterday that they had lost at least twenty-one killed and at least 110 captured in the March 24-25 battle with opposition forces in Kofarnihon district, twenty to twenty-five kilometers east of Dushanbe. The opposition lost only four killed, according to the same government officials. Opposition field commanders Mullo Kasym, Nazim, and Ramon Sanginov led the successful counteroffensive after government forces had sought to dislodge the opposition detachments from that area. Sanginov, who controls the eastern outskirts of Dushanbe, reinforced the detachments in Kofarnihon.
The casualty figures were made public when the sides agreed yesterday on a step-by-step withdrawal of their forces to initial positions. The arrangement leaves the opposition detachments in virtual control of that portion of the east-west highway, the country’s jugular. The opposition for its part released a batch of prisoners and agreed to release further batches as government forces complete the withdrawal. However, local residents are reported to be fleeing the area in the direction of Dushanbe for fear of another outbreak of hostilities. The battle was the bloodiest since the signing of the peace agreements nine months ago. (Russian agencies, March 29)
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