The armed clashes in and near Dushanbe, which began on April 29, culminated on May 1 and 2 with fighting in the Tajik capital itself. Government forces using armor and artillery managed to evict the opposition detachments which had seized control of the eastern part of the capital. Afterward, however, small groups of opposition fighters infiltrated the city center, launching grenades at several targets. The presidential palace and the official news agency Khovar were among the targets hit by fighters, who operated out of the city’s central park. The government considers opposition field commander Rahmon Sanginov chiefly responsible for the attacks in the capital.
President Imomali Rahmonov and the opposition’s first deputy chairman Akbar Turajonzoda negotiated a truce which seemed to take effect yesterday. Acting as head of an ad-hoc “government-opposition joint commission to stabilize the situation in and near Dushanbe,” Turajonzoda persuaded opposition commanders just east of the capital to accept the terms of the truce. These terms involve a withdrawal of government and of opposition forces from the eastern part of Dushanbe; from the Tepoi-Samarkandi hills and the Rohati gorge, situated just east of the capital; and from a stretch of the east-west highway near Kofarnikhon, twenty-five kilometers east of Dushanbe. Government and opposition forces will be replaced by one small joint post at each of these three locations. Government troops are to return to their barracks. Opposition detachments are to relocate with their weapons to predesignated sites and await demobilization and absorption into government forces, in accordance with the 1997 peace agreement. Turajonzoda described the fighting as “a real tragedy and a serious test of the pacification process.” (Russian agencies, RTR, AP, May 1 through 3; and see The Monitor, May 1).
Opposition forces have long operated with ease in Dushanbe’s eastern outskirts, from which they have frequently infiltrated the capital. Some of them regard the relocation to distant camp sites and the planned demobilization as unilateral concessions, which also entail serious security risks to themselves and to their political leaders. How far these commanders accept orders from the political opposition is far from certain. –VS
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