Monday, August 06, 2012 -
The body of a senior Tajik security forces officer killed during a recent offensive against armed fighters in eastern Tajikistan was found washed up on the Afghan side of the border river late last week.
Deputy Commander of the Police Special Unit (OMON) Lieutenant-Colonel Farrukh Zaripov went missing July 24 during clashes between thousands of troops and militants near Khorog, provincial city of Gorno Badakhshan.
An interior ministry source said his body was found on the Afghan shore of the Panj river by local residents, the independent Tajik news agency Asia-Plus reported.
It is not known whether Zaripov died of wounds or drowned.
“The circumstances of the death of the officer are being investigated,” the Itar-Tass news agency cited a ministry source as saying.
Zaripov was buried in Dushanbe on Saturday, according to the KyrTAG news agency.
The Dushanbe government launched the military offensive in retaliation against militants who allegedly murdered regional security chief Abdullo Nazarov.
Reports vary on the number of people killed in the fighting, but at least 13 soldiers, 30 militants and 20 civilians are known to be dead.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon has demanded the surrender of Tolib Ayombekov, a former civil war chieftan, and three others for the killing of Nazarov.
Authorities have detained more than 40 people.
Meantime, a fragile ceasefire is underway, with militants handing in hundreds of weapons in return for an immediate amnesty.
So far more than 500 firearms have been surrendered, mostly Kalashnikov assault rifles, shells, grenade launchers, and ammunition of various types. Local authorities have also confiscated at least two dozen automobiles with illegally tinted windows and fake license plates.
In a phone call on Monday, Rahmon and Afghan President Hamid Karzai discussed the problem of unarmed militants now positioned on the Tajik-Afghan border. According to a release from the Tajik president's office, an estimated 1,000 unidentified armed men are now on the border.