Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 204

A military force said to number at least 1,000 invaded northwestern Tajikistan from Uzbekistan at dawn today. Commanded by Colonel Mahmud Hudoberdiev, the force has captured Hujand, capital of Tajikistan’s Leninabad region, and the town of Chkalov after full-scale fighting with government forces. President Imomali Rahmonov’s office describes the situation as “very grave.” The commanders of Russian forces in Tajikistan are sitting in a meeting of the presidential security council to deal with the situation.

The Leninabad region, Tajikistan’s most developed, is inhabited by many ethnic Uzbeks, to which ethnic group Hudoberdiev himself belongs. A colonel in the Tajik army until 1997, Hudoberdiev led two antigovernment mutinies, hoping to derail the compromise between government and the Islamic opposition. Ultimately defeated by Russian-assisted government troops, the Colonel withdrew last year into Uzbekistan and has been based there since. Uzbekistan today denied having offered its territory as a staging area for the invasion.

Hudoberdiev also has supporters in the southern region Hatlon where he used to be headquartered. In the regional capital Kurgon-Tepe, three bombs exploded yesterday near buildings of law-enforcement agencies (Itar-Tass, November 4).