DUSHANBE/KHOROG, June 16, 2009, Asia-Plus  -- Three service of the Ministry of Defense (MoD) have been killed in unknown circumstances in eastern Tajikistan.

According to the Ministry of Interior (MoI), the bodies of two servicemen of the MoD military unit 01140 deployed in the settlement of Somoniyon in the Rasht district – the 19-year-old Zohir Mirzoahmadov from Sughd’s Asht district and the 20-year-old Jamoliddin Saydamirov form the Rasht district – having bullet wounds were found on June 14.

The third serviceman – officer of the MoD Abribod Alishayev – reportedly died in the execution of his duty in the Saghirdasht area of GBAO’s Darvoz district.  According to the GBAO regional military registration and enlistment office, Abribod Alishayev was chief of the food service of the MoD military unit 123441L.

The Rasht prosecutor’s office has instituted criminal proceedings to investigate into the killings.

The MoD officials confirmed the information about murder of three servicemen.  However, they refrained from giving further details. 

In the meantime, Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service reported yesterday that the burial of Abribod Alishayev in Gorno Badakhshan has increased speculation about an anti-rebel operation in the eastern part of the country.  Tajik Defense Ministry officials at the funeral told RFE/RL that Abribod Alishayev was killed during a special operation against illegal armed groups in the village of Saghirdasht in Tavildara province.  Badakhshan military commissioner Zafar Davlatov rejected reports that Alishayev was accidentally killed by friendly fire.

Tajik officials have denied the presence of illegal armed groups in Tavildara, saying that the special operation in the region is aimed at combating drug dealers.  But there have been reports in recent weeks of ongoing clashes between Tajik troops and Islamist rebels who allegedly entered Tajikistan from Afghanistan, according to RFE/RL’s Tajik Service.