DUSHANBE: Tajikistan said on Wednesday that it had killed three members of a “terrorist group” who had infiltrated the country from neighbouring Afghanistan, the second such incident this year in the Central Asian nation.

Tajikistan is a sparsely-populated, poor, mountainous ex-Soviet country where fears have risen that the return to power of the Taliban in its war-scarred southern neighbour could destabilise the country.

“Three members of a terrorist organisation brea­c­hed the Tajik-Afghan border in the night of August 29-30 and headed toward the village of Kevron to commit a terrorist act ahead of the Tajik national holiday” on September 9, the official Kabar news agency reported, citing the GKNB security service.

“The three members of the terrorist group were eliminated” early on Sept 5 after refusing to surrender, it added.

The three men were Tajik natives and members of the Jamaat Ansarullah group, a jihadist group made up mostly of ethnic Tajiks that has been linked with the Islamic Movement of Uzbe­ki­stan and close to the Taliban.

In a similar incident in late April, the Tajik security services reported having killed two “terrorists” who had come to the country from Afghanistan. On Wednesday, the GKNB said they were also members of the Jamaat Ansrullah group.

Of the five Central Asian countries who were once part of the Soviet Union, Tajikistan has adopted the hardest line against the Taliban and has hosted members of the Afghan opposition.

It has also reinforced border patrols along its 1,300-kilometre border with Afghanistan. Since its independence in 1991, Tajikistan has been confronted with multiple militant groups.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2023

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