World Bulletin / News Desk
Rebels facing off against government troops in Tajikistan's volatile east began laying down their weapons on Sunday after the authorities threatened to launch a new offensive to capture a former warlord accused of killing a local security chief.
President Inomali Rakhmon had called a ceasefire late last Tuesday after heavy fighting, promising to pardon anyone who disarmed while demanding that the rebels handed over Tolib Ayombekov, the former warlord, along with three fighters.
A senior Tajik security official told Reuters on condition of anonymity on Sunday that the rebels had started to surrender at about 0200 GMT, handing over "dozens of guns".
"We now hope that everything will end peacefully," he said.
Tajikistan's interior ministry confirmed the news in a statement, saying: "Members of illegal armed units in the Gorno-Badakhshan region have started turning in their arms ... Those laying down their weapons are immediately amnestied."
Rakhmon had sent troops into the area on Tuesday in pursuit of former opposition field commander Ayombekov, accusing him of killing Major-General Abdullo Nazarov, the head of the Gorno-Badakhshan branch of the GKNB, successor of the Soviet-era KGB, on July 21.
Officials said the heavy fighting that followed killed 17 troops, 30 rebels and one civilian, in violence that raised concerns about the stability of the majority Muslim nation.
On Saturday - after several days of talks - the authorities issued a final warning, telling the rebels they would launch a new large-scale military offensive against them unless they surrendered.
"Warlord not surrendered"
However, not all of the authorities' demands were met.
"At this stage, there is no talk about the surrender of Ayombekov and other rebels accused of killing Nazarov," the same security source told Reuters on Sunday. "Militants say they are in Afghanistan, and we also do not exclude this."
"The main thing is that this (stand-off) now ends peacefully, and we will return to Ayombekov's capture later."
After Nazarov was killed, the government sent helicopters, armoured vehicles and thousands of troops into the area.
Ayombekov, who fought against Rakhmon in a 1992-97 civil war before receiving a government job in the peace deal that ended the conflict, denied any involvement in Nazarov's killing.
Fearing possible infiltration of Taliban-linked fighters who support Ayombekov, Tajikistan closed all its border crossings with Afghanistan, only allowing trucks carrying military cargo for NATO troops there to pass.
Some analysts said that the assault - the first military operation on such a scale in almost two years - was a show of force by Rakhmon, whose control over parts of the Central Asian state remains tenuous 15 years after the end of the civil war.
Separated from Afghanistan by the Pyandzh river, Gorno-Badakhshan is an autonomous region where the authority of the central government is particularly fragile. Most of its 250,000 inhabitants sided with the opposition during the civil war.
Tajikistan is the poorest of 15 former Soviet republics. Tens of thousands died in its civil war, in which Rakhmon's Moscow-backed troops fought a loosely aligned opposition that included many Islamist fighters.
Former imperial master Russia still has 6,000 troops stationed in Tajikistan, its largest military deployment abroad.
Attorney general spokesperson says 10 inmates notified execution will likely take place Tuesday.
The United States Geological Survey said the tremor was 6.7 magnitude, less than the 7.9 quake that struck the region on Saturday killing at least 1,900 people.
United Nations Secretary-General sent his condolences and promised major assistance.
The earthquake killed more than 1,900 people including at least 17 who lost their lives on Everest.
Daniel Fredinburg, head of privacy at Google X, dies in Mt. Everest avalanche prompted by major earthquake.
An earthquake measuring 7.9 has hit the east of Nepal, and was felt in India. Those with broken limbs have been taken to hospital and at least 50 people trapped in Kathmadu's 19th century tower.
The 7.9 earthquake earlier on Saturday has triggered an avalanche on Mt Everest
Two Australian drug convicts were notified on Saturday that they will be executed by firing squad in 72 hours at the Indonesian prison island of Nusakambangan, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.
French photographer Roland Neveu tells of ‘accident of history’ of rise of ultra-Maoist Khmer Rouge in 1975.
A Japanese man has been arrested for landing a drone on the prime ministers office in protest of Japan's use of nuclear power
Four fighters who say they work for Iran call on Assad regime and Hezbollah for an exchange of prisoners with Syrian opposition forces.
Human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud was shot dead after leaving a restaurant where she had given a talk about Baluchistan.
The Law and Order Trust Fund of Afghanistan (LOTFA) received over has received around $3.6 billion from international donors since 2002 to pay Afghan police force salaries and other expenses
Adam Gadahn, an American convert to Islam was killed by US attacks near the Afghan border in January of this year.
Taliban fighters have launched rocket attacks on a US base in Kabul and have targeted government buildings in Afghanistan.
Indonesian attorney general’s spokesman confirms reports that his office has sent letters to prosecutors advising them to make preparations ahead of the imminent executions of the Bali 9