Government security forces yesterday seized a “bomb factory” with its stock of explosives and an anti-government group in the southern city of Kurgon-Tepe. The city had until last year been a power base of Colonel Mahmud Hudoberdiev, whose rapid-deployment armored brigade–the strongest unit in the Tajik army–was stationed there. Locals continue seething against the merger of the Kurgon-Tepe district with Kulob into a single administrative unit, an arrangement seen to favor the Kulob clan of President Imomali Rahmonov. Hudoberdiev supported local demands for Kurgon-Tepe’s separation from Kulob. When Hudoberdiev’s forces recently invaded Leninabad, a series of bomb explosions damaged law-enforcement buildings in Kurgon-Tepe, suggesting a coordination of the two operations (see the Monitor, November 4).
Meanwhile Dushanbe reports that government forces continue “mopping-up operations” against “remnants” of Hudoberdiev’s supporters in the northern region of Leninabad. The troops also seek to collect weapons distributed by the rebels to the population in the Leninabad region’s capital, Hujand. Another “mopping-up operation” is being conducted by United Tajik Opposition (UTO) forces, now allied with the government, against rebel “remnants” in the Aini district, midway between Hujand and Dushanbe. These official reports throw doubt on the authorities’ claim that the rebel forces have been completely defeated (Itar-Tass, November 16-19).–VS
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