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Bordering Afghanistan and China, the Tajik region jealously guards its relative independence from the central government.8 November 2018
Residents of Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) protested against increased security measures in the area on 6 November after an incident in which a police officer fired on three local men.
Although no more than a few hundred people at most attended, even a protest of this size is notable given the level of repression in Tajikistan, Eurasianet.org comments.
GBAO governor Yodgor Faizov met the protesters and promised to investigate the incident, RFE/RL reports.
The current restiveness stems from an outburst by Tajikistani President Emomali Rahmon two months ago, when he lashed out at security officials for being unable to stem criminality during a visit to the regional center, Khorog.
Since then, security has been tightened and numerous checkpoints set up to “keep tabs on the movements of the region’s relatively small population,” Eurasianet says.
One result of Rahmon’s visit was the replacement of the regional governor by Faizov.
The region is home to the Pamiri people, many of whom, like Faizov, belong to the Shiite Ismaili sect, headed by a wealthy philanthropist, the Aga Khan.
Bordering Afghanistan to the south and China to the east, the region’s poverty and remoteness belies its strategic importance. Periodic waves of unrest have swept GBAO since the end of the Tajik civil war in the mid-1990s, when the Pamiri minority fought for the region’s autonomy.
Proximity to Afghanistan makes the region of strategic interest to China and Russia, which maintains a large military presence in Tajikistan.
In August, shortly after four Western cyclists were murdered by alleged Islamist radicals, the Tajikistani military reportedly launched an air strike on suspected Taliban drug smugglers in response to the killing of two Tajikistani officials, the Kyrgyzstan-based AKI news service reported.
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