Tajikistan police kill relatives of ex-commander who joined Islamic State

Gulmurod Khalimov

DUSHANBE (TCA) — Tajikistan’s authorities say that four close relatives of a former police commander who joined the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in 2015 have been killed in a clash with security forces, RFE/RL’s Tajik Service reported.

Tajik police told RFE/RL the clash occurred late on July 4 in the country’s Vose District, about 25 kilometers from Tajikistan’s border with Afghanistan.

A local police officer told RFE/RL on July 5 that two brothers and two nephews of former Tajik police commander Gulmurod Halimov were killed. That police officer said Halimov’s 52-year-old brother, Sultanmurad Halimov, was among the dead.

Authorities said the four were thought to be traveling to Afghanistan together with three other men.

Officials have not disclosed full details about the operation against Halimov’s relatives.

The four had not been formally charged with being members of the IS militant group or suspected of any crime.

But security officials told RFE/RL that Halimov’s brothers had been under surveillance in Dushanbe for some time and were followed by police after they left Tajikistan’s capital earlier on July 4.

Gulmurod Halimov, a former commander of Tajik Interior Ministry Special Forces, known as OMON, disappeared in April 2015.

In May 2015, a video of Halimov posted online showed him brandishing a sniper rifle and threatening to bring holy war to Russia and the United States.

Tajikistan has issued an international warrant for his arrest and the United States has offered $3 million for information on his whereabouts.

There have been several unconfirmed reports from both northern Iraq and Syria since 2015 that Halimov was killed while fighting for IS militants.

Tajik authorities have repeatedly rejected those reports, saying they think he is still alive.

In May, Tajik officials arrested Halimov’s 18-year-old son, Behruz Halimov, on charges of trying to join his father in Syria.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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