The Tajik armed group commanded by Bakhrom Sodirov confounded its government protectors over the weekend by taking State Security minister Saidamir Zuhurov hostage. Bakhrom demands that a detachment commanded by his brother, Rizvon Sodirov, be allowed to return to Tajikistan from Afghanistan. Rizvon, it now appears, has been fighting against the Taliban on the side of the runaway former Afghan government headed by Burhanuddin Rabbani and Ahmad-Shah Masood. The latter is said to be unwilling to part with Rizvon’s unit, which is well trained and heavily armed by Dushanbe. Tajik president Imomali Rahmonov and Masood negotiated over the weekend in the southern Tajik town of Kulob — Rahmonov’s home base — and are continuing the talks in Dushanbe; Masood’s brother, Muhammad Soleh, negotiated with Bakhrom at his base camp in Garm region. Both sets of talks sought in vain to find a compromise. Bakhrom has indicated that he plans to establish a Sodirov fief in Garm with the help of his brother’s force. The United Tajik Opposition for its part warned again over the weekend that government-opposition negotiations would be put at risk if Dushanbe allowed Rizvon, a renegade former commander of the opposition, to return.
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