The UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT) has pulled back all of its personnel from the countryside to its base in Dushanbe, following the assassination of four mission members in Labijar. (See the Monitor, July 22) The slaying was described as “the worst in UN annals” by the UN secretary general’s special envoy, Jan Kubis. Tajik authorities appear nervous following the revelation that the killing took place close to positions held by government troops.
The UNMOT party had left opposition-controlled territory after talks with the well-known Tavildara commander, Mirzo Zia. The last opposition checkpoint was 12 kilometers behind, and government forces stood only 2.5 kilometers ahead when the UNMOT team was gunned down at close range. Dushanbe initially claimed that a road accident caused the observers’ death. Yesterday, however, President Imomali Rahmonov charged that the slaying had been organized in order to discredit him ahead of the planned presidential election. The presidential Security Council dismissed two first deputy defense ministers from their posts, and issued official reprimands to the defense minister and the deputy prime minister responsible for the military and security services. Rahmonov did not publicly explain why these officials were, apparently, considered indirectly responsible for the killings. (Russian and international agencies, July 22)–VS
ANTI-ISLAMIC TRIALS NOW ALSO IN WESTERN UZBEKISTAN.