Tajik army, internal affairs, and state security troops launched an operation on January 25 to seize weapons from local forces and the populace in the Uzbek-inhabited towns and districts of Tursunzade, Hissar, and Shahrinau in western Tajikistan. Ordered by president Imomali Rahmonov, the operation is spearheaded by Col. Mahmud Hudoberdyev’s mechanized "rapid-deployment brigade," nominally attached to the presidential guard. Local "self-defense units" and residents have until today to hand over their arms voluntarily and be amnestied. Starting today, government troops are authorized to attack and destroy those who fail to comply.
The operation has been ineffective thus far. In the Tursunzade area, the first to be targeted, the troops officially reported having seized by yesterday only a little more than 100 firearms, whereas local forces are estimated to have some 1,500 fighters and about a dozen combat vehicles and personnel carriers. Hudoberdyev’s chief of staff predicted yesterday that this "very complicated" operation may require up to one month. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, January 26-27)
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