Authorities in Tajikistan now agree: Military operations in Rasht this week killed Tajikistan’s most wanted man, Mullo Abdullo. (See an earlier post here.)
Blamed for an attack on a military convoy last September that left at least 25 dead, Abdullo was a top commander during Tajikistan’s 1992-1997 civil war. He never accepted the peace treaty and reportedly fled to Afghanistan. In 2009, a few reports surfaced that he had returned to Tajikistan and was living a bin Laden-like existence hiding in the hills around the conservative Rasht District.
That he was alive may shock some.
Tajikistan’s Interior Ministry chief of staff Tokhir Normatov told the Associated Press on April 16 that Abdullo and 14 other militants were killed in an assault using armored vehicles and aircraft. Images of his body were reportedly shown on state television. It is unclear if any civilians or soldiers died in the campaign.
Asia-Plus reports the three-day operation attacked Abdullo and his comrades in a “specially equipped camp where they had been hiding for some time.”
Recall the death in early January of Alovuddin Davlatov, better known as Ali Bedaki, another former anti-government commander. Though officials at the time announced he was killed in a military operation, a video of him surfaced on YouTube a few days later, looking stunned and somewhat beaten, but very alive in the backseat of a vehicle where hew as apparently being interrogated. Officials recently changed their story, but the pieces still don’t add up.
Expect similar intrigue to surround Abdullo's death. Nevertheless, removing Abdullo, or even presenting him as out of the picture, is a major military and psychological victory for Tajikistan in its war against Islamic militants.