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By Asker Sultanov and Buzugmekhr Ansori
OSH – Authorities are taking additional steps to fight terrorism in southern Kyrgyzstan, but tensions remain high, Tursun Khovarov of the State National Security Committee’s anti-terrorist unit said.
“Large caches of firearms and explosives are found almost every day, and new members of extremist organisations are identified,” he said. “For many years, we did nothing (to combat terrorism), so we are reaping the fruits of our past mistakes. To avoid repeating those mistakes, we now need to take action.”
The Osh authorities conferred with law enforcement and religious organisations December 13.
Many children and teenagers go to Pakistan and Afghanistan for terrorist training, he added.
Law enforcement has evidence of that, Kochubek Duisheyev, an officer of the Osh Region Interior Ministry’s quick-response unit said. “We intend in this connection to check the identity of people entering or exiting Pakistan and Afghanistan – particularly those going there to study in religious schools.”
Kyrgyzstan considers calling back students from foreign madrassas
Tajikistan launched a campaign a few months ago to return its citizens from foreign madrassas.
“Although the number of Kyrgyz students in foreign madrassas is not that high, this still is something to think about,” Beknazarov said. “Some of the apprehended extremists were identified as graduates of religious schools in Pakistan or Afghanistan.”
Close interaction with local residents is a major element of any anti-terrorist operation, Khovarov said. “We intend to pay rewards to anyone tipping us off as to the whereabouts of terrorists or their arms caches. That will be an incentive (for public co-operation with us).”
“That’s hardly a good idea,” human rights activist Ekmaleddin Kamolov contended. “People may start earning money by denouncing neighbours or acquaintances they don’t like.”
“One needn’t worry – each report will be cross-checked,” Khovarov assured.
The Osh mayor’s office ordered December 15 the establishment of a public council and a council of elders involving members of all local ethnicities to keep the city under control and to hold informative meetings with residents, mayoral official Sayip Usmonali said.
“Extremist and terrorist acts are often backed by nationalist slogans. Those councils will explain things to youth and try to bring them to their senses. An elder’s opinion has always been a kind of law in this country,” Usmonali said.
Police behaviour to be monitored
Tighter security would be in the local people’s interest, Osh resident Galiya Muradova said. “One thing many don’t like, however, is that police have a way of breaking into one’s home to start questioning everyone.”
Those measures are “a must” for the time being, Duisheyev explained.“Of course, rudeness by police is unacceptable, and those who feel hurt may report this kind of incidents to (the policemen’s) superiors. On the other hand, we would like people to understand these are measures we have to take.”
Kyrgyzstan is comprehensively reviewing its security system, Khovarov said.
“We often hear people say law enforcement’s requirements are constantly changing. In the past, conversely, they felt unhappy about things remaining unchanged for years. It’s because we saw no reform for many years that changes will now continue uninterrupted until the system has caught up,” he said.