The situation in southern Kyrgyzstan is still tense. Defense Minister Esen Topoyev told journalists that about 350 militants of Uzbekistan’s Islamic movement are seeking an opportunity to move from Afghanistan into the Central Asiatic countries. The Minister reported with reference to on-line data that separate terrorist groups seriously battered during the US-led anti-terrorism operation often get together near the Afghan border. This activity of Muslioms is explained with the fact that basic military activities have been moved to the south, which is why Muslims have become active again in the northern Afghani provinces.
Servicemen say that armed groups belonging to Uzbekistan’s Islamic movement have been seen at the Tajikistan-Afghanistan border long ago. Several conflicts on the border have also been also reported. Experts say that these were attempts to transport mass batches of drugs grown on Afghani poppy plantations to Russia and Europe. Unfortunately, the collapse of the Taliban did not reduce heroin and opium supplies from this region. Moreover, replacement of the religious fanatics with a more democratic form of government has resulted in the weakening of control over drug dealers and has created more favorable conditions for opium growing and collection. As is known, the Taliban simply beheaded those who disobeyed the order. The new government does not dare to act like this.
On the other hand, no production has been established in the liberated regions of Afghanistan, and no workplaces have been created for the people who now have to seek different, even illegal, sources of income. The growing of opium poppy is the easiest and safest way to earn a living.
According to reliable sources, Afghanistan’s drug business has at least tripled this year. It inspires guerrillas to lay new routes for drug deliveries to bring more and more tons of heroin and opium to the markets. The shortest routes are running via Kyrgyzstan. In addition, secret drug depots have been discovered in the southern areas of the republic; guerrillas failed to evacuate them last year because of the Americans who came to the region.
The Kyrgyzstan defense minister thinks that the intrusion of the terrorist groups, although rather unpleasant, will pose no danger to the republic’s security. Indeed, the terrorist groups are scanty, and the republic is already experienced in struggle with them. Nevertheless, servicemen have already taken all necessary measures to avoid any intrusion. The Military exercise "South Shield 2002" scheduled for July in Kyrgyzstan is believed to be a good prophylactic measure. Not only Kyrgyzstan servicemen but the CIS collective fast deployment forces as well will take part in the exercise.
Yury Razgulyayev PRAVDA.Ru Bishkek Kyrgyzstan
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2002/07/09/43875.html
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