Afghan, Pakistani conflicts spilling into Central Asian states?
Tajikistan blames recent attacks at home on fighters fleeing anti-Taliban offensives. Security was the topic at a regional summit in Dushanbe Thursday.
A spate of militant clashes in Tajikistan may indicate that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Pakistan are spilling beyond their borders – a top concern for neighboring Central Asian nations and Russia.Skip to next paragraph
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The rise in violence comes as Pakistan wraps up an assault on militants in the north and Western forces intensify a campaign against insurgents in Afghanistan ahead of an Aug. 20 election. The offensives may be pushing foreigners fighting in either country to flee the conflict and return home.
"The situation at the Afghan border may deteriorate ahead of elections," Interior Minister Abdurakhim Qahorov warned last week. "Different criminal groups may try to seek temporary refuge in neighboring countries, including ours."
The issue of regional security was raised at a Thursday summit in Dushanbe with the presidents of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Russia.
"[Terrorism] threatens my brother's country. It threatens my country and our neighborhood," Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said Wednesday in Dushanbe.
Militants linked to Pakistan, Afghanistan
Tajikistan, which shares a 750-mile border with Afghanistan, sits on the front line of spillover effects.
Last Saturday, two explosions rocked Dushanbe. Nobody claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the Tajik government said the perpetrators were linked to the Taliban.
A week earlier, police detained three Tajik men whom the police allege were plotting terrorist attacks in the country. The Interior Ministry said they were "active members of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) [who] participated in the fights against the coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan and against government forces in Pakistan's region of Waziristan." The US lists the IMU as a terrorist group.
In a faceoff Wednesday, the government claimed it had killed an IMU leader, Nemat Azizov.
Shoot-outs near Afghan border
Also this month, security forces have been involved in at least four shootouts in Tavildara, near the Afghan border. In one clash, they killed five militants from Russia who may been associated with five Chechens arrested earlier this month who were planning "to transfer money earned from drug trafficking to terrorist organizations in Pakistan and Afghanistan," according to the police report.
According to local media reports, government forces are also fighting the armed group of Mullo Abdullo, a former field commander who fought on the opposition during the 1990s civil war and left for Afghanistan after it ended because he was dissatisfied with the peace treaty. Villagers in Tavildara report that he has returned and brought "many armed men."