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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-314634 Uzbekistan Terror (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=3/31/2004

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=UZBEK/VIOLENCE (L-ONLY)

NUMBER=2-314634

BYLINE=ANYA ARDEYEVA

DATELINE=MOSCOW

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

INTRO: The death toll from three days of violence in Uzbekistan rose to more than 40, following bombings and fierce clashes between Uzbek forces and suspected Islamic militants. The authorities say they have detained 30 people on terrorism charges and are looking for others. Anya Ardayeva reports from Moscow.

TEXT: Uzbek authorities quoted by news agencies say 30 people have been detained on terrorism charges in the past few days. Uzbek police declined to confirm the number of arrested, but said they are looking for more suspects.

The outbreak of violence began Sunday with bombings in Tashkent and Bukhara and continued on the outskirts of Tashkent, where security forces raided a suspected terrorist hideout. There were casualties on both sides in the raid.

Uzbek President Islam Karimov blamed Islamic extremists for the attacks. He said Hizb ut Tahrir, the Party of Liberation - a radical group which is banned across Central Asia - was involved. The group denied the allegation.

This is the most serious outbreak of violence in Uzbekistan since the country joined the United States in the war against international terrorism in 2002 and allowed U-S troops to use a military base near the border with Afghanistan.

Analyst Alexei Malashenko says Uzbekistan's close cooperation in the war on terrorism makes it an important target to terrorists.

/// MALASHENKO ACT ///

They most openly, if we compare to the rest of the countries, declared their cooperation with the United States. President Karimov emphasized several times that he considers that Uzbekistan is on the front line in the struggle against terrorism. So [terrorists believe] he has to be punished.

/// END ACT ///

Previous attacks occurred in Uzbekistan in February 1999, when several of explosions in Tashkent killed 16 people. The violence was blamed on the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which was then based in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban regime. (SIGNED)

NEB/AA/MAR/RAE



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