Tuesday, July 31, 2012 -
Armed rebel groups in eastern Tajikistan have surrendered some 200 weapons under a ceasefire agreement as authorities send in food aid, according to media reports Tuesday.
Fighting last week between illegal armed groups and government troops backed by helicopter gunships and armored vehicles in the mountainous province of Gorno-Badakhshan left at least 70 people dead.
President Emomali Rahmon called the truce and offered an amnesty to fighters who lay down their weapons, but is also demanding the surrender of four suspects over the murder of a senior security official on July 21. The four remain at large.
The Tajik president instructed authorities in Dushanbe on Tuesday to increase the amount of food aid to the isolated province owing to the disruption of supplies during fighting, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
The vast province of Gorno-Badakhshan is Tajikistan’s poorest and the recipient of 75 percent of total subsidies handed out by the central government in Dushanbe.
The legally registered Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) has appealed for donors to send aid to the province situated high in the Pamir Mountains.
The United Nations and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have also expressed concern over the bleak humanitarian situation.
"Both sides need to take measures to prevent further harm to the general population," HRW Central Asia researcher Steve Swerdlow said in the Monday statement.
"The situation in Gorno Badakhshan raises grave concerns."
Meantime, local independent news agency Asia-Plus reported that the clampdown of online news media in recent days eased slightly Tuesday with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) web site becoming accessible again within the country.
But access to YouTube video hosting service and several Tajik and Russian news sites remains blocked, Asia-Plus said.