Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 181

The Tajik government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) yesterday issued a joint ultimatum to what they termed the “unlawful armed bands” commanded, respectively, by Saidmuhtor Erov and Rovshan Gafurov. The ultimatum gives the members of those detachments seven days to lay down their arms and quit, or, alternatively, to turn themselves in with their weapons to the government authorities or to the National Reconciliation Commission. The defectors are being guaranteed personal safety, legal immunity and a return to peaceful civilian life. The government and the opposition threaten to mount a joint military operation and destroy the two renegade detachments after the expiration of the seven-day deadline. The document describes those groups as operating independently of either the government or the UTO forces and engaging in banditry, terrorism, hostage-taking and assassinations (Russian agencies, October 1).

The document further implies that these two groups are only a part of a larger phenomenon of insubordinate armed groups operating with impunity in Tajikistan. But it does not hint whether the Erov and Gafurov groups used to be affiliated with either the government forces or those of the opposition. During the civil war, government forces in particular were plagued by insubordination, with entire units alternating between combat service and freelance brigandage.–VS

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