World Bulletin / News Desk
Tajik authorities said Thursday they have arrested 13 members of an Islamic opposition party they suspect of links to a spate of deadly attacks against security forces.
"All 13 active members of the Islamic Renaissance party have been detained to prevent new terrorist acts and to prevent people from being attracted to extremist groups, creating armed groups and destabilising the situation in the country," a statement by the Prosecutor General said.
Authorities in the ex-Soviet country on Wednesday said security forces had killed 33 rebels -- including former deputy defence minister Abduhalim Nazarzoda -- it said were responsible for deadly clashes this month that left 14 security officers dead.
The government said Nazarzoda, who was dismissed from his post earlier this month, was receiving orders from the exiled head of the Islamic Renaissance Party, but the party denied this.
Nazarzoda fought with the opposition against the secular government during a five-year civil war that ended in 1997 with a deal that saw former rebels integrated into the defence ministry.
Tajikistan's highly authoritarian government last month effectively banned the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, the country's largest opposition party.
The government accused the opposition bloc made up of moderate Muslims and more secular-minded Tajiks of ties with the ISIL group.
Police said they wiped out the militant group's hideout in the mountains after launching air and ground operations, arresting 125 members and seizing 600 weapons.
Two more people were killed in the same area in eastern Tajikistan's Ramit valley Thursday, including a defence ministry colonel Mullo Umar, an ally of Nazarzoda, a spokesman at the interior ministry said.
The opposition party members arrested Wednesday and overnight Thursday include three deputies to the party chairman, several legal experts, and its press secretary.
The prosecutors' statement said they were "trying to hide or leave the territory of Tajikistan" and are now suspects in the case against Nazarzoda and others charged with treason last week.
The party failed to win a single seat in a disputed March parliamentary vote for the first time since the end of the civil war.Last Mod: 17 Eylül 2015, 13:51