Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 6

The Tajik government’s rapid-response armored brigade, commanded by Col. Mahmud Hudoberdyev and headquartered in Korgan-Tupe (some 90 kilometers south of Dushanbe), yesterday arrived in the vicinity of Tursunzade (some 55 kilometers west of Dushanbe) and attacked the force of Kadyr Abdulloev, a local pro-government warlord. Hudoberdyev has demanded inter alia the return of weapons he claims were seized from his unit recently by Abdulloev’s men and the replacement of political and security officials in Tursunzade. The Colonel is defying orders from President and Commander-in-Chief Imomali Rahmonov to return his troops to base. Senior Dushanbe officials and Russian "peacekeeping" officers are at the scene, trying to stop the fighting. (Interfax, Itar-Tass, January 8)

Tursunzade is a coveted prize as the site of Central Asia’s largest aluminum plant. Located in ethnic Uzbek-inhabited western Tajikistan, Tursunzade has largely been controlled by warlord Ibod Boimatov, a former government commander turned rebel against Dushanbe who has connections in neighboring Uzbekistan. Dushanbe has used Abdulloev to displace Boimatov. Hudoberdyev, believed to be an ethnic Uzbek himself and commanding one of the most powerful military units in the country, staged an anti-government mutiny in January-February 1996 in collusion with Boimatov. But he became reconciled with Dushanbe when it met his demands to dismiss a number of senior officials in the central government and in Korgan-Tupe.

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