Central Asia: April 3, 2004


The Russian FSB (federal security agency) has sent investigators and technicians to assist in the counter-terrorism operations in Uzbekistan. There, the death toll in the last six days stands at 33 terrorists (seven of them women), ten policemen and four civilians. Police arrested 19 terrorism suspects and seized 55 suicide bomber belts, 72  ammonium nitrate bombs, and more than two tons of chemicals for making bombs. Also seized were seven AK-47s, 11 pistols and two hand grenades. The government says that most of the terrorists are foreigners, but Uzbek pro-democracy groups say the government is using the terrorist attacks as an excuse to round up anyone opposed to the current dictatorship.

Afghanistan, alarmed at the outbreak of terrorist violence, has closed its border crossings into Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, across the border in Pakistan, Tahir Yuldash (head of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan) is still on the loose with several hundred heavily armed followers. The chances of Yuldash getting back to Uzbekistan with his men are slim, but not impossible. In any event, the government claims that some of the terrorists participating in the recent attacks had spent time in Pakistani al Qaeda camps.


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