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TA-ATTACKS: More Attacks in Uzbekistan

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posted on Mar, 30 2004 @ 12:13 PM
Following the attacks of Sunday and Monday, a further 20 militants have blown themselves up in the capital Tashkent. They became surrounded by Uzbek security forces and blew themselves up during a fierce gun battle, killing three policemen and injuring five. Two militants exploded a carbomb at a checkpoint close to the scene, killing two policemen. There were futher reports of a second suicide bomb at another nearby police checkpoint. The death tolls are from the Uzbek government.


The authorities are blaming the attacks on Islamic militants, which have focused largely on the police who are seen by the people as the main instrument of the dictatorships oppression, and are subsequently widely hated. The Islamic groups are likely to have popular support throughout the country that wants rid of its oppressive government.

There is no political opposition in Uzbekistan, The media is controlled and U.N reports cite the use of torture as "systematic". Despite this Uzbekistan is regarded as a U.S ally in the war on terror, and condemnation of the regime from Washington has widely ceased since the U.S paid President Islam Karimov $500 million dollars to set up a base in the country for the duration of activities in Afghanistan.

Witnesses said four armed militants entered a house, which was then surrounded by the security forces.

An interior ministry statement read out on television said 20 militants blew themselves up with home-made explosives after being surrounded. Three policemen were killed and five were injured.

At least five bodies were reported to be lying in the street.

"You just can't imagine how terrible it was," one resident, 76-year-old Lyudmila Petrovna, told Reuters.

"First the special forces turned up like a bolt from the blue, all wearing masks and armed to the teeth.

"Then we were hastily evacuated and - along with our relatives - heard explosions and the shooting."

The interior ministry said a number of different operations were taking place in parts of the city, but gave no details.

The authorities have blamed Islamic extremists for the attacks which are the bloodiest seen in the former Soviet republic for five years.

The violence began on Sunday evening with an explosion at a house used by alleged militants in Bukhara, the authorities said.

This is a nasty situation in Uzbekistan. Revolution has been coming for a while, but revolution under the direction of Islamic extremists could see Uzbekistan turn into another Taliban era Afganistan. there is chance it could be Uzbeks with no connection to the Islamics and that the government is lying for support, but a connection seems likely.

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[Edited on 30-3-2004 by Banshee]

posted on Mar, 30 2004 @ 12:20 PM
"It's part of international terrorism," said Alexei Malashenko, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment's Moscow office and an expert on militant Islamic groups.

He said the likely mastermind of the violence was the IMU (Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), which seeks the overthrow Uzbekistan's secular government and the others in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia.

The IMU allegedly orchestrated a failed 1999 bombing attack on Karimov that killed at least 16 people and was declared a terrorist group by the United States in 2000 after the kidnapping of four American mountain climbers in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan.

On Monday, Karimov quickly blamed Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical group that has called for creation of a worldwide Islamic state but outwardly renounced violence. It denied responsibility for the violence in Uzbekistan.

Hizb ut-Tahrir spokesman Imran Waheed said from London that Karimov was blaming the group to deflect international criticism of his government's human rights abuses. "These bombings are very convenient for the Uzbek government as a diversionary tactic," Waheed told The Associated Press.

He added that the attacks "provide an excuse for the government to clamp down on all Muslims and all forms of the political opposition."

Many analysts viewed Karimov's accusations against Hizb ut-Tahrir with skepticism, saying that the group focuses on propaganda and hadn't been involved in previous violence in Central Asia.

"The fact that Karimov pointed at Hizb ut-Tahrir simply means that he considers this group the most dangerous," Malashenko said.

The Uzbek government long has declared the IMU defeated and focused repression actions on Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

"Acknowledging the IMU's role in that would mean admitting the inefficiency of the Uzbek security services," Dubnov said.

posted on Mar, 30 2004 @ 12:58 PM
Interesting to see the Russian anyalsts and medias point of view.

From the same article:

"The explosions in Tashkent could be revenge for Uzbekistan's housing U.S. military bases in support for the operation in Afghanistan," the Russian business daily Kommersant said in a commentary.

The IMU is believed to have been seriously weakened by the U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan and allegedly received new blows recently in the Pakistani military's hunt for terrorists near frontier with Afghanistan.

Andrei Kokoshin, the head of a parliamentary committee in charge of Russia's relations with other ex-Soviet republics, said the latest violence could be linked to the fighting in Pakistan earlier this month in which many IMU members were reportedly captured.

"It could be that these actions accompanied a demand for their release," Kokoshin said on Echo of Moscow radio.

Arkady Dubnov, a columnist for the daily Vremya Novostei and an expert on Central Asia, said that by targeting police, the organizers of the latest violence could have sought to win over the population.

Malashenko said the terrorists could have targeted the authorities simply because they were driven into a corner.

In a country where attacks like this could actually win over the population to their side, things could get pretty ugly.

posted on Mar, 30 2004 @ 01:15 PM
This is a good article by a Uzbekistan expert with some good background links. He takes the line that it may well not be an Islamic connected group, but a new one intent on disposing the government. It also talks of more widespread fighting over the last few days than has been widely reported.

While the insurgents have utilized some terrorist techniques, in particular suicide bombings, some observers in Tashkent believe the attacks may not be connected to known Islamic radical groups, such as Hizb and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Instead, it may be the work of a new group, with its origins rooted in the despair generated by the Karimov government’s stranglehold over the country’s political and economic life.

Karimov in a televised address March 29 claimed that Islamic radicals, in concert with international terrorist groups, had been planning the attacks for up to eight months. However, some eyewitness accounts raise doubts about assertions of an international connection. First, some reports indicate that the insurgents were poorly armed. The account that some insurgents took pistols from police officers would appear to substantiate these reports. At the same time, the bombs employed by the insurgents appear to be crudely fashioned, with limited explosive force, assembled with locally available components. Some observers feel that if either the Hizb or the IMU had been involved in the attacks, the insurgents would have been better equipped.

Virtually everyone interviewed over the past two days expressed little sympathy for the police, and said government policies were driving people to revolt. A man interviewed near the TTZ tractor plant vented about the complete lack of civil rights and economic opportunity in Uzbekistan. The attacks, the man asserted, are a "serious expression of popular anger."

"There may be more incidents tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, and into the future because people are desperate," said the man, who like all those interviewed refused to give his name, citing concern about government retribution. "Until the situation concerning human rights and the economy is resolved, the source of terrorism will not be rooted out."

[Edited on 30-3-2004 by kegs]

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