At least 100 people, mainly young people, gathered in Khorog, the capital of the Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO), yesterday for protest rally demanding an investigation into an incident in which a police officer shot and wounded three local men.  Protesters also demanded that the authorities remove police checkpoints that were set up in the city in September.  GBAO governor Yodgor Fayzov met with the protesters and promised that a special commission would thoroughly investigate the incident.

The incident took place in Khorog’s Tirshid neighborhood late on November 4.  A police officer reportedly fired a pistol at a group of people, wounding three men.

A statement, released by the Interagency Staff for Security in GBAO, says the shooting occurred after five young men attacked a traffic-police car.  A police officer allegedly fired from his car into a group of local men with a traumatic pistol (a type of firearm that discharges powerful but typically non-lethal rounds) after they vandalized a police service vehicle on order of Khursand Mazorov, who was identified as one of local informal leaders. 

The Interagency Staff for Security in GBAO is a state agency that was set up two months ago to oversee security in the region.

Meanwhile, Subhon Sabzaliyev, a 31-year-old resident of Khorog, who was one of the people shot, said that the incident occurred shortly before midnight on November 4 when he and his parents were returning from relatives.  According to him a group of neighborhood guys were staying near the house and he remained to talk to them.  After a while, Mercedes pulled up to them and police officer fired from the car into them.  Subhon identified the man who shot at him as Khurshed Muhammadzoda, a commander with the OMON (special police unit).  Sabzaliyev said Muhammadzoda was a recognizable figure whom residents had seen often at police checkpoints around Khorog.

A protest rally took place in Khorog on November 6.  Demonstrators who gathered before the regional administration office demanded, among the other things, that the police man be brought to justice.     

GBAO Governor Yodgor Fayzov came out and met with the demonstrators.  A woman told him that they had shot at her son.

“To whom do we take our complaints when it is the police themselves that are doing the shooting,” the woman said.  The woman added that if her son were guilty of anything, she would want him arrested, but that this shooting happened before her own eyes.  “Today they are shooting at him, tomorrow it will be somebody else. I am a mother, and all we mothers are afraid for our children,” she said.

Fayzov conjectured that there might be another version of events.  “In order to understand what happened, we need to go to the spot and look into it.  We will go with you and your son and figure it out,” said Fayzov.

But demonstrators demanded that the shooter present himself and account for his actions.  Khorog residents reportedly warned that they would pitch tents outside the administration office and remain there for three days unless the matter was resolved.

Fayzov and Muhammadzoda, the OMON officer, have also met but there are no details as to what emerged from that encounter, according to Eurasianet.