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Tajikistan: Khorog Hard Hit by Gunbattles
Wreckage of a building in Khorog destroyed in fighting between government forces and rebels. (Photo: IWPR)
Public meeting outside local government building in Khorog. (Photo: IWPR)
Another gathering, this time near Khorog University. (Photo: IWPR)
Khorog residents are returning to the streets now that a ceasefire is holding. (Photo: IWPR)
A residential block pockmarked with bullet-holes. (Photo: IWPR)
A burnt-out minibus in an otherwise peaceful scene. (Photo: IWPR)
Another building, this one a cafe, bearing the scars of fighting. (Photo: IWPR)
A local resident's van destroyed in the fighting. (Photo: IWPR)
This part of Tajikistan is unused to scenes of unrest, let alone extreme violence. (Photo: IWPR)
Khorog, the main town in Badakhshan region of southeast Tajikistan, has been left badly scarred by last week's gunbattles between government troops and supporters of a rebellious local frontier guards officer.
When Talib Ayombekov refused to be questioned himself or to surrender suspects in the murder of top regional security official Major-General Abdullo Nazarov, central government ordered thousands of soldiers into the region to capture them. The fighting came to a halt with a ceasefire, which is still holding, but not outright defeat for the rebels. Efforts are now under way to get them to hand over their weapons, and they are being offered amnesty if they do so. (See also Tajik Rebels Lay Down Arms in Badakhshan.)
Local residents have staged a number of protests against the military offensive, not because they support Ayombekov but more out of anger at the intensity of the assault on an urban area full of civilians. They feel a lower-key effort to apprehend the suspects would have been more effective, and would certainly not have placed them at such risk.
These picture show ruined buildings, bullet-strafed walls and torched cars that are testament to the ferocity of the fighting.
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