Khorog, the city in eastern Tajikistan which saw fighting last summer between residents and security forces from the central government, has again become the site of tension, highlighting the mistrust that locals and Dushanbe still have for one another.
The latest episode was sparked November 29, when police and officers from the State Committee on National Security (GKNB) attempted to arrest a Drug Control Agency officer, Sherik Abdulamidov. Police say around 10-20 associates of Abdulamidov interfered with the arrest; locals say the police provoked the incident. "The security forces did not present a warrant, broke down the door, and opened fire when people began to complain about the unlawful activities of the special services. The citizens' response was provoked by the behavior of the law enforcement officers," one resident, Muboriz Akhdodshoyev, told the BBC's Russian service.
In the resulting "riot" (to use the words of the state prosecutor's office) six law enforcement officers were injured and two of their cars were burned. And the prosecutor has opened a criminal case against the people who fought with the police, but a source in Khorog told The Bug Pit that locals are not cooperating with the investigation and so police and GKNB have not been able to locate the perpetrators.
"Trust in the authorities was badly undermined by the July events in the Pamirs, so now residents of the region respond very cautiously to any action by government officials. It's necessary to restore that lost trust," a local human rights activist, Nabot Dodikhudoeva, told the BBC.
The conventional wisdom, both in Dushanbe and in Khorog, was that the central government would eventually try to finish what it started in July 2012 and exert its full control over the Pamilrs -- but that it wouldn't do so until the presidential elections. Now that those have passed, expect tensions to mount.