News / Asia

    Tajikistan Rebels Dig in Against Government Offensive

    Bodies of government soldiers lie on the ground in the town of Khorog, capital of the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan, in this undated handout picture received by Reuters on July 26, 2012. Bodies of government soldiers lie on the ground in the town of Khorog, capital of the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan, in this undated handout picture received by Reuters on July 26, 2012.
    x
    Bodies of government soldiers lie on the ground in the town of Khorog, capital of the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan, in this undated handout picture received by Reuters on July 26, 2012.
    Bodies of government soldiers lie on the ground in the town of Khorog, capital of the autonomous region of Gorno-Badakhshan, in this undated handout picture received by Reuters on July 26, 2012.
    Armed militants in Tajikistan who recently fought deadly clashes with security forces have refused to disarm or hand over a former opposition warlord wanted by authorities despite a tense cease-fire.

    The Tajik prosecutor-general said Saturday the heavy fighting killed 17 troops, 30 rebels and one civilian in violence that has raised concerns about the stability of the majority Muslim nation. Security sources said authorities have not ruled out a second phase of the military operation.

    The clashes in Tajikistan have been on the rise for weeks.

    Fighters in the eastern Gorno-Badakhshan autonomous region near the Afghan border are locked in a standoff with the government after President Emomali Rakhmon sent helicopter gunships, armored vehicles and thousands of troops into the area Tuesday, following last week's killing of General Abdullo Nazarov, the regional security chief.

    Tajik officials accuse ex-warlord Tolib Ayombekov of orchestrating Nazarov's murder and running an organized crime group that smuggles drugs, tobacco and precious stones over the Afghan border into Tajikistan.

    Ayombekov, a rebel leader during the 1992-97 civil war that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union, denies any involvement in Nazarov's death. He told the Associated Press the security operation was aimed solely at rounding up former civil war commanders.

    Tens of thousands died in the conflict, in which Rakhman's Moscow-backed troops fought a loosely aligned opposition that included many Islamist fighters.

    Fearing possible infiltration by Taliban-linked militants who support Ayombekov, the Tajik government last week closed all border crossings with Afghanistan, only allowing trucks carrying cargo for NATO troops there to pass.

    Tajikistan remains the poorest of the ex-Soviet republics. It is important to U.S.-led military operations in Afghanistan and serves as a main transit route for opium destined for Russia and Western Europe. Observers say an eruption of sustained violence there could trigger unrest in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, which also are key countries in the Afghan campaign as routes for military supply and withdrawal.

    Russia, which still has 6,000 troops stationed in Tajikistan, is worried about instability spreading across Central Asia when the U.S. begins pulling its forces out of Afghanistan in 2014.

    Tajikistan's authority in Gorno-Badakhshan - which covers around half the country - is fragile and most of the region's 250,000 inhabitants sided with the opposition in the civil war.

    Some information in this report was provided by Reuters, AP and AFP.

    Mark Snowiss

    Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

    You May Like

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    In phone call, US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agree that Pyongyang's move would be 'provocative'

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.