Tajikistan: Hunt for Nazarzoda Ongoing

Efforts to capture former Tajik Deputy Defense Minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda are ongoing after clashes on the outskirts of Dushanbe led to 22 deaths late last week. Reports of the Tajik effort to capture or kill Nazazoda indicate that the operation is focused on the Romit Gorge, about 150 kilometers to the east of Dushanbe. Nazarzoda has a history of opposition to the Tajik government and fought against President Rahmon during the Tajik civil war.

The Tajik government has quickly dubbed his movement an “extremist, terrorist” operation linked to Islamist operations in Afghanistan, although few indications exist that the violence of this last week had anything to do with an organized, radical Islamist group. Other sources in the area indicate that the operation is intended to overthrow the government, but given the movement’s reportedly small, 100-strong operation, it seems unlikely that this was the purpose.

One Radio Free Europe report indicates that the dispute could have stemmed from disputes over the sharing of profits from various illegal businesses run by the government, while Eurasia Net surmises that systematic repression could have provoked the attacks.

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