Kyrgyz troops push back rebels, claims govt

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at
Fri Aug 18 20:12:38 MDT 2000

16 August 2000

Kyrgyz troops push back rebels, claims govt
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: After five days of fierce fighting in the high
mountains along the border with Tajikistan, Kyrgyz troops on Tuesday pushed
Islamic rebels out of the country, according to a statement from the
presidential press service.
Officials also said eight German mountaineers who had been taken hostage by
the rebels were released on Tuesday and taken to the regional center of
Batken. No further details were immediately available.
The rugged area where the borders of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
meet has been the scene of frequent fighting between troops and rebels who
want to carve out an Islamic state in the area. The latest fighting started
last Friday.
Earlier Tuesday, Kyrgyz artillery shelled about 50 militants along the
border and that another 600 rebels were moving in to support the small band.
But on Tuesday evening, the presidential press service said most of the
rebels had been eliminated and the remainder had pulled back into
Kyrgyz Security Council Secretary Bolot Dzhanuzakov said earlier Tuesday
that about 40 militants had been killed since Friday. A government source
speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press on Monday that
more than 25 Kyrgyz troops had been killed.
Another eight troops from neighboring Uzbekistan have also been killed
fighting the rebels, the Uzbek Defense Ministry said Tuesday, according to
the Interfax news agency.
The heaviest fighting took place in the Turo pass, about five kilometers
(three miles) from Kyrgyzstan's border with Tajikistan, where mountains
reach about 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level, Dzhanuzakov said.
The military has claimed that some of the fighters are mercenaries from
Middle East countries and Russia's rebellious province of Chechnya.
The rise of the fundamentalist Taliban movement in neighboring Afghanistan
has fueled fears that similar groups could flourish in the ex-Soviet states
on its borders. (AP)
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