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.
Senior commander Umar Lateef was killed and his wife detained during an overnight raid. Punjab province had placed a $20,000 bounty for his capture.
The situation for some 140,000 Rohingya, many of whom are confined to flimsy tent-like cities, is dire as rescuers are unable to reach them.
Egypt has continued its war against the Muslim Brotherhood by sentencing 300 Muslim Brotherhood members for three to ten years in prison
In a joint operation, the US and New Zealand tested weapons which could emulate a 33 ft tsunami as a possible alternative to a nuclear bomb.
Turkish president stops over in Islamabad to meet Pakistani prime minister
Integrated Community Shelter built in Aceh with $420,000 in funding from various parties inside and outside of country
For the first time maritime militia could get its own fishing fleet, a boost for the world’s largest producer and exporter of fish
Mullah Akhtar Mansour's message is aimed at fending off the emerging risk of the group splintering into factions
The Afghan Defense Ministry has also claimed that the Nawzad district in southern Helmand province has been reclaimed two days after Taliban overran it
The US Intelligence Community has also assessed that the former leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, is dead, White House says
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey is ready to boost cooperation with the Asia Pacific region, an increasingly important region in world economy
Valiollah Mohammadi, the Iranian ambassasdor to Indonesia has confirmed that a visit will take place next week with talks focused on banking, technology and oil
The spying goes back at least as far as 2006, WikiLeaks said
BSF troopers at Khora border outpost fired three to four rounds of automatic gunfire
Early morning attack in the south has wounded 14 people in Yala province.
International Olympic Committee will make the announcement after a vote held during the IOC session in Kuala Lumpur