Terror in Tajikistan

There was a powerful explosion outside the emergencies ministry in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, June 13. Vehicles were damaged in the blast, and the ministry’s windows blown out, but no casualties were reported. “I do not exclude that this was a terrorist act,” Interior Minister Khumdin Sharipov told reporters. Earlier this year, a car bomb outside the same ministry killed the driver and injured three people. No-one claimed responsibility for that blast. Sharipov said this time the explosive was planted in a wheelbarrow. He said three people had been detained in connection with the attack, but gave no further details. Tajikistan suffered a five-year civil war from 1992-97, following the break-up of the former Soviet Union, and remains volatile. (BBC, June 13)

Like many Central Asian states, Tajikistan has been walking a fine line between Washington and Moscow, and recent developments suggest a tilt to Washington. As of June 14, the Tajik-Afghan border, stretching 1,344 km, is fully guarded by Tajik border guards, the last remaining Russian units having pulled out. (BBC, Juned 14)

Tajikistan has also ratified an agreement with the US not to extradite each others’ citizens to the Inernational Criminal Court without the other’s consent. (BBC, June 15) See also the American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC).

In news less likely to be greeted happily in Washington, Iran and Tajikistan signed an agreement to build a dam and power plant on the Vakhsh River. A joint company has been formed to oversee the Sangtudeh 2 Project, with both public and private investment from Iran. A total of $220 million is estimated to be spent for construction of the dam and 220-megawatt power plant. (IRNA, June 17)

Like Kyrgyzstan, which has since exploded into revolution, Tajikistan saw March elections which were contested as illigitimate by the opposition. See our last post on Tajikistan.