Tajik extremist Ali Bedaki killed in 4-hour battle
By Dilafruz Nabiyeva
DUSHANBE — A military operation in eastern Tajikistan killed extremist ringleader Alovuddin Davlatov (Ali Bedaki) and seven of his followers January 4. The government had accused Bedaki of involvement in the September 19 Komarob Gorge ambush that killed 28 troops in a military convoy.
Tajik Interior Ministry Chief of Staff Tokhir Normatov disclosed the deaths of Bedaki and his followers in a January 4 operation in the village of Runob, near Garm. Troops captured a ninth insurgent alive, he said. State TV aired images of the dead extremists and released their names.
Not all the dead had Rasht District roots, according to the Interior Ministry. Some were residents of Isfara.
The military operation began early the morning of January 4, when authorities learned that Bedaki’s group was hiding in a house in Runob, said Olim Odilov, a former member of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO).
“Only troops from special Interior Ministry units, the State Committee for National Security and the Defence Ministry participated,” he said. “It ended pretty quickly, with no casualties for government forces.”
The battle, though, reportedly lasted about four hours. Bedaki never signed the 1997 agreement that ended the Tajik civil war. In recent years, he farmed in his native village, Bedak, in Rasht District. He had been on the run since Dushanbe blamed him, along with former UTO field commanders Mirzokhudzhu Akhmadov and Abdullo Rakhimov (Mullo Abdullo), for the September 19 ambush. In two months of operations beginning September 22, government forces killed about 20 extremists while losing about 30 troops.
Bedaki appeared in a video posted on the internet in mid-November. Shot from a cell phone, it showed him and his followers. The video’s source identified it as footage of them crossing through mountains.
“Yes, Bedaki really was in that video, but by then we already knew he wouldn’t go far,” an official in the State Committee for National Security said on condition of anonymity. “After we conducted an operation on the Tajik-Afghan border to neutralise the August 23 Dushanbe prison escapees and the Afghans extradited some of them, we realised Bedaki wasn’t among them. That meant he was still in Tajikistan, so we decided to renew our searches in Rasht.”
Akhmadov, who surrendered to the government last autumn and promised to help find Bedaki, is now residing in his native village. He did not personally participate in the operation against Bedaki’s group, he said. “I observed that operation’s progress with several top security officials from about a half-kilometre away,” he said by phone.
Elimination of the Bedaki group will bring peace not only to the Rasht Valley but to all Tajikistan, he said.
“Anybody trying to serve his foreign benefactors by destabilising Tajikistan will be wiped out like Bedaki,” he said.
The compromise between the authorities and Akhmadov yielded positive results, political scientist Parviz Mullodzhanov said. “However, the longer-term fate of the region depends on how the two sides fulfil their sides of the bargain,” he said.
It’s premature to talk of complete peace in Rasht, military affairs correspondent Shakhobiddin Ziyeyev said. “In 2009, after a large group of IMU [Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan] members was wiped out in Tavildar and UTO commander Mirzo Ziyeyev … was killed, the Rasht region didn’t became any more stable,” he argued. “Besides, one mustn’t forget that Mullo Abdullo is still on the loose and has been for quite a while.”
Nonetheless, Bedaki’s death is a major breakthrough in establishing peace, he said.