Eight policemen were killed in Tajikistan on Friday in attacks the authorities in the Central Asian nation blamed on gunmen loyal to the country\’s own deputy defense minister.
Tajikistan, an impoverished Muslim nation of 8 million and the poorest ex-Soviet state, is still volatile after a 1992-97 civil war that killed tens of thousands.
The events prompted the U.S. embassy in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, to shut on Friday. A statement on its website said armed gunmen had clashed with Tajik police in the city and that the incidents "may be precursors to other acts of violence."
Tajikistan\’s interior ministry blamed the attacks in Dushanbe and the adjacent city of Vahdat on a "terrorist group" it said had seized arms and ammunition. It said the group was led by Major General Abdulkhalim Mirzo Nazarzod, the deputy defense minister, who was dismissed later on Friday by Imomali Rakhmon, the president, for committing a crime.
Law enforcement officers had killed two of the attackers, one of whom was a state security official, and wounded three others, the ministry said. Six people were detained.
Nazarzod was a member of the opposition Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan and a former opposition militiaman who was brought into the Tajik armed forces under a 1997 peace deal.