DUSHANBE, October 19, 2009, Asia-Plus  -- As a result of skirmish in the northern city of Isfara, four alleged members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) have been killed and one officer from the Sughd OMON (special police unit) has been wounded.

The source at one of law enforcement agencies of Tajikistan said that the skirmish took place in Isfara yesterday evening.  “Local police received information that a number of members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), including alleged killer of the Isfara criminal investigation squad chief, are hiding in a residential building on the Kolkhoznaya Street”, said the source, “A special group comprising officers from the Sughd police directorate, security directorate and border guards deployed in the province has been set up to detain them.”

The group surrounded the house and proposed those inside the house to surrender but they opened fire on the group members and wounded the Sughd OMON officer Khairullo Mirzoyev.  After a gun battle, four criminals were killed.  “Their names are not disclosed in the interest of investigation,” the source said, noting that three assault rifles Kalashnikov and one machine-gun Kalashnikov were found in the house.

The source added that a number of other armed criminals managed to escape and an operation to search for them was under way.  

In the meantime, Radio Liberty’s Kyrgyz service reported on October 18 that Kyrgyz border guards are continuing their search for armed insurgents who entered Kyrgyz territory from neighboring Tajikistan.

Saitzhan Eratov, the commander of a Kyrgyz border crossing near the incursion point, told RFE/RL that the group may be hiding in the Tajik exclave of Vorukh, which is surrounded by Kyrgyz territory in the Batken district.  The group consists of some eight to fourteen armed people who opened fire on Kyrgyz border guards on October 14 and moved into the mountains along the border.  They were reportedly being chased by Tajik security forces when they crossed into Kyrgyzstan.

Eratov said Kyrgyz police and border guards have surrounded the area where the insurgents are believed to be hiding and found four backpacks filled with food and a grenade.

The identities of the gunmen are unknown but it is believed they are wanted for criminal activities in Tajikistan.