Central Asia: Prison Break


September 11, 2010: Some five thousand troops, as well as senior military officials from Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have assembled in Kazakhstan to discuss counter-terrorism measures and carry out joint exercises. All these nations have some problems with Islamic terrorism. Russia has active terrorism going on in the Caucasus (in and around Chechnya), China in its western regions (Tibet and Turkic Uighurs in the northwest). Thus these seven nations share information on terrorism and develop routines. This year, for the seventh time, most of the nations are sending troops for joint military exercises. China, Russia and Kazakhstan each sent 1,000 or more troops while Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan each sent about a hundred. Overall, about 5,000 army and air force troops are involved. Several military and police special operations detachments are involved. These counter-terror operations will continue through the month.

The tensions between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan remain. Last June, violence in the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad left at least 400 (and perhaps as many as 2,000) dead, most of them minority Uzbeks. Over 3,000 homes were destroyed. Kyrgyz police and soldiers apparently supported the attacks against the Uzbeks. After the violence died down, most of those arrested were Uzbeks. The tensions remain and it's feared that violence will resume.

September 9, 2010: A previously unknown Islamic terrorist group, Jamaat Ansarullah, has taken credit for a September 3rd suicide car bombing in Tajikistan. The attack left two dead and nearly 30 wounded when the explosion went off near a police station. This was the first terrorist bombing in Tajikistan in five years. Jamaat Ansarullah may simply be a new name for an older outfit, like the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which had long served as an umbrella organization for Islamic terrorists in the region. So far this year, Tajikistan has arrested about a hundred suspected Islamic terrorists. The government has been urging parents not to send their send their sons to study in madrassas (Islamic religious schools) because such schools are a major source of recruits for Islamic radical organizations. But poverty, corruption and dictatorial rule causes many people to look to Islamic radicalism as a solution to their problems.

September 5, 2010: A bomb went off in a nightclub in the capital of Tajikistan, wounding five people.

September 4, 2010: Afghanistan and Turkmenistan have agreed to build a 1,700 kilometer long natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan, to move natural gas from Turkmenistan to customers in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

September 3, 2010: A suicide car bombing in northern Tajikistan left two dead.

September 2, 2010: The head of security in Tajikistan was fired, apparently as a result of a jail break last month in which 25 Islamic terrorists escaped, killing six guards in the process.

August 22, 2010: In the capital, 25 Islamic terrorists escaped from a prison, overpowering the guards and killing six in the process. The Russian, Tajik and Afghan terrorists seized weapons, changed into uniforms and apparently headed for the Afghan border under cover of night. All the escapees were serving long sentences on terrorism charges.  


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