Skip to comments.Uzbek Police Storm Militant Hideout; Up to 23 Dead
Posted on 03/30/2004 1:35:21 PM PST by Dog
Uzbek Police Storm Militant Hideout; Up to 23 Dead
By Shamil Baigin TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (Reuters) - Uzbek special forces stormed a suspected Islamic militants' hideout in a Tashkent suburb on Tuesday, leaving up to 23 people dead after a day-long siege, the Interior Ministry said.
One woman evading capture blew herself up, witnesses said. Her severed head went flying over a wall. The battle erupted in Yalangach, two miles from one of President Islam Karimov's residences, a day after explosions killed 19 people in the Central Asian state. Authorities said Islamic militants triggered those blasts.
When Tuesday's firefight had ended, five corpses clad in black and identified by police as "terrorists" lay outside, each with bullet wounds. An Interior Ministry statement read on television said 20 militants had killed themselves.
"In the process of being detained, 20 terrorists blew themselves up. Along with this, three policemen died and five sustained wounds of various seriousness," the statement said.
Residents and officials at the scene said 20 people were killed in the worst violence to grip the state since Soviet times. Twenty people died in 1999 bomb attacks aimed at Karimov.
Western countries and rights groups have criticized the ex-Soviet state for using tough tactics against Islamic opposition, including accusations of widespread torture.
A suburban resident, Farida, said she saw special forces running away from a woman apparently wearing a belt with explosives, who then pursued a bus carrying morning shift workers. But the vehicle sped away.
"Then the police shot her in the leg, she fell down and then she blew herself up," said Farida. "The woman's head flew over the wall and into the courtyard."
Tension remained high after dark in Tashkent, a sprawling city dominated by tatty Soviet-era buildings erected after a 1966 earthquake. Soldiers with Kalashnikov rifles stood on corners and only a handful of cars ventured into the streets.
Lyudmila, 76, said elite troops struck unexpectedly. First the special forces turned up like a bolt from the blue, all wearing masks and armed to the teeth," she said. "Then we were hastily evacuated and -- along with our relatives -- heard explosions and the shooting." Monday's blasts, which the prosecutor general blamed on female suicide bombers, raised concern in Washington, which uses an Uzbek airbase for operations in neighboring Afghanistan.
One group accused by authorities denied involvement.
Imran Waheed, a representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain, told Reuters in London he knew of no members linked to the bomb attacks or arrested afterwards.
"We haven't heard of any backlash against the group...," he said. "An intensification in the repression of our members is to be expected."
Uzbekistan sealed its border with Tajikistan to the east, Tajik border authorities said, and Kazakhstan, to the north, also beefed up border security. In Kyrgyzstan, where Islamic militants staged attacks in 2002 and 2003, authorities reinforced police protection of embassies and other sites.
Two groups, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights and the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, voiced fears authorities "might take discriminatory and repressive actions" against religious communities and opposition groups.
"Improving human rights in Uzbekistan...could reduce the threat of terrorism," a joint statement issued in Vienna said.
Russia views the region, also including Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, as the "soft underbelly" of the former Soviet Union. Moscow, fighting separatists in its mainly Muslim region of Chechnya, shares Tashkent's concern about Islamist activity or infiltration into the area from Afghanistan.
Oh wait a minute. Its Uzbekistan doing this, not the Jewish state of Israel. The UN, EU and the rest of the world will say nothing of this.
Sounds like she lost her head.
Blowed up good, blowed up REAL good!
I fall to pieces ......
Funny, Pakis nail a uzbeki bigwig and all hell breaks loose there.
Kudos to the Uzbekis.
Choice of which number to be.
"What's in the road, a head?"
"I'm head over heels for you."
"Goin' outa my head, over you . . . "
Measuring the explosive assisted head toss......
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