Tajikistan says escaped militants killed, captured

Tajikistan says escaped militants killed, captured

Security forces in Tajikistan killed one Islamist militant who escaped prison nearly a year ago, and recaptured another, the Interior Ministry said on Tuesday, leaving only two of the 25 escapees on the run, Reuters reported.

The ministry said in a statement that one of its servicemen was also killed and two wounded in a gunfight with the militants on Monday, 250 km (155 miles) east of the capital Dushanbe.

Tajikistan, the poorest of the 15 former Soviet republics, shares a 1,340-km (840-mile) border with Afghanistan and has been fighting a group of insurgents in the country's east since the jailbreak in August 2010.

The Central Asian state of 7.5 million people, where tens of thousands were killed in a 1992-97 civil war, is viewed with concern by Russia and the United States because of its location on a drug trafficking route out of Afghanistan.

Authorities say the 25 prisoners who escaped last year included the organisers of an alleged coup plot. President Imomali Rakhmon fired almost the entire leadership of his security services after the jailbreak.

Sixteen of the fugitives have now been recaptured and a further seven killed, authorities say.

Underlining the fragile peace in the mountainous republic, Interior Minister Abdurahim Kakharov said last week that a rebel commander who terrorised Dushanbe during the civil war might launch attacks to support a growing insurgency.

A militant group linked to al Qaeda claimed responsibility for an ambush on a military convoy last September that killed 28 government troops.

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