President Islam Karimov announced yesterday that the authorities have arrested thirty members of Islamic groups as potential suspects in the February 16 terrorist attacks in Tashkent. The six bomb attacks killed fifteen people and wounded more than 100, barely missing Karimov and the cabinet of ministers (see the Monitor, February 17, 18). Karimov said that those arrested were suspected as “auxiliaries” to the attack. Both the “main executants” and those who commissioned the attacks and hoped to profit politically have yet to be identified, the president said.
Karimov asserted that those arrested were also under suspicion of having been trained by Islamic radical groups in Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Chechnya and possibly elsewhere. The president attacked in general terms “Wahhabi” and other “extremist” groups among Uzbek Muslims. His remarks suggested that the authorities may use the terrorist attacks as a rationale for a new round of repression against Islamic groups deemed, rightly or wrongly, “extremist.”
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