Seventeen Tajik government soldiers were killed and eight taken prisoner in an attack on a military convoy in the Komsomolabad district February 11, the Tajik government announced yesterday. Up to 100 resistance fighters from the detachment of field commander Mullo Abdullo took part in the attack. The unit, which operates in the Garm area, is allied to the resistance forces active in Tavildara. In the latter district, government forces are amassing for a counteroffensive to recapture the substantial ground — reported to include some twenty villages — seized by the resistance in an offensive from January 31 through February 8. The government acknowledged that the resistance controls the strategically located town Vanch in the Badahshan region. In Dushanbe, 2 officers of the Tajik Internal Affairs Ministry troops were killed February 10 in a shoot-out with what the government termed "criminals" — the first reported incident of the kind in Tajikistan’s capital this year. A series of assassinations of government and Russian soldiers occurred in Dushanbe in 1995.
On the political front, President Imomali Rahmonov has replaced the governor of Leninabad region and ordered a redrawing of administrative boundaries in the Hatlon region after dismissing that region’s governor. Rahmonov has also decreed a liberalization of sales of cotton fiber and primary aluminum, as well as freer use of foreign exchange earned by exporters of those commodities. (15) Rahmonov’s economic measures follow his appointment of a new prime minister from the northern Leninabad region. The measures are designed to appease the regime’s Uzbek allies, who rebelled January 26 through February 7 in Tursunzade, the site of a major export-oriented aluminum plant, and Hatlon, the center of Tajikistan’s cotton industry. The rebels’ goals included wresting control of these two economic sectors — Tajikistan’s chief sources of revenue — from the southern Kulyabi clan.