DUSHANBE, April 18, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- President Emomali Rahmon has thanked officially chiefs and servicemen of power-wielding structures that participated in an a special operation in the Rasht Valley to hunt down militant leader Abdullo Rahimov, widely known as Mullo Abdullo, and his confederates.

According to the presidential press service, the president met with senior police and security official today to review security and anticrime efforts.  President Rahmon reportedly ordered all relevant state agencies and ministries to take adequate measures to strengthen security and the fight against organized crime.

Tajik law enforcement authorities say a search operation for Mullo Abdullo and his followers that began on Aril 14 was over April 16.

Tajik national TV channel, Shabakai Avval (Channel One), reported on April 17 that militant leader Mullo Abdullo was killed on April 15 along with 16 of his confederates in Rasht district, some 50 kilometers west of Gharm, the administrative center of Rasht district.  Two local residents that were voluntarily providing assistance to the government forces were killed and two police officers were wounded, Shabakai Avval reported.  Images of the body of Mullo Abdullo were shown on state television.

We will recall that some sources in the Rasht Valley told Asia-Plus that operation, involving armored carriers and combat helicopters, began in the village of Samsoliq in Nourobod district, some 135 kilometers east of Dushanbe on April 14.  Associates of former United Tajik Opposition (UTO) filed commander Mirzokhouja Ahmadov reportedly also participated in the operation.

Authorities say Mullo Abdullo, who never accepted the peace agreement of 1997 that ended Tajikistan''s civil war, and his confederates were behind the September 19 attack on Tajik army forces in Kamarob Gorge in Rasht district, in which at least 28 servicemen were killed and more than 10 others wounded.  Following this incident, the government forces began a counterterrorism operation in Rasht on September 22.

In recent months, Tajik law enforcement authorities have said several times that the operation in the Rasht Valley was over, but then admitted it is continuing.  On November 9, the head of the State Committee for National Security, Saymumin Yatimov, said that the operation in Rasht was almost over.  He recalled that some 20 gunmen had been killed and some 30 others either surrendered or sided with government forces in pursuit of the militants.  The law enforcement authorities reported on January 4 that one of the suspected attackers Alovuddin Davlatov (Ali Bedaki) and his seven confederates have been killed in a special operation in Rasht district.

Mullo Abdullo was one of UTO filed commanders during the country’s 1992-1997 civil war.  He never accepted the peace treaty and reportedly fled to Afghanistan.  In 2009, a few reports surfaced that he had returned to Tajikistan and was hiding in the mountains around the Rasht district.