In a statement issued yesterday, the Dushanbe government charged that the United Tajik Opposition is either unable to control its own armed units or "insincere when claiming that it wants peace." Citing recent cases of harassment of government forces by opposition units, the government warned that it would "forcibly disarm those unlawful detachments" unless the UTO "takes urgent and effective measures to stop their actions." In the latest and most serious incident, at least five Internal Affairs Ministry troopers were killed yesterday by unidentified attackers on the main east-west highway, some 70 kilometers east of Dushanbe. (Russian agencies, March 18)
The Presidential Guard commander recently complained that opposition forces are pressuring and disarming Internal Affairs troops in several mountainous areas with impunity. (See Monitor, March 16 and 17) Adding insult to injury, opposition fighters sometimes beat up the unresisting troops before allowing them to withdraw. The government’s better troops, such as the Presidential Guard, have not retaliated thus far.
The government hopes to pressure the UTO leadership into ordering some of its units to disarm others, thereby sparking clashes among them. Such a development would enable the government to restore control in areas it has practically lost to the opposition. It would, moreover, remove any pressure on the government to observe its commitments under the political agreements with the UTO.
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