Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 52

Government forces continued yesterday a week-long operation against resistance groups in Komsomolabad raion and on the approaches to the Garm area. The Internal Affairs Ministry claimed that its forces killed 25 and wounded 40 opposition fighters while losing 3 killed and 12 wounded. Russian sources suggested however that the government was understating its losses. The Tajik government claimed that the operation was succeeding in unblocking that stretch of the Dushanbe-Tavildara highway, where the resistance had repeatedly ambushed government troop convoys. Defense minister Sherali Khayrulloyev today backtracked on the government’s pledge to continue observing the cease-fire: he ruled out only "large-scale offensive operations" in Tavildara. (13) The government also announced measures to beef up the Presidential Guard and increase budgetary appropriations to that elite force. Colonel Mahmud Khudoberdiev was appointed as Presidential Guard commander. (14) Khudoberdiev, an ethnic Uzbek commander of the government’s 1st Motorized Brigade, spearheaded in January a military mutiny which briefly threatened the government before ending in a compromise over economic spoils in Khatlon region. His appointment appears to reflect a new tactic of the ruling Kulyabi clan to coopt other elements into positions of influence.