Central Asia new haven for fanatics
MOSCOW: After burning their fingers in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Pakistan,
trained mercenaries are seeking fresh pastures to export their brand of
`fundamentalism', with Tajikistan, Kazhakastan and Kyrgyztan emerging as the
their new hotspots.
Novosti reporting from the Kazhak capital, Astana, where defence ministers
of the `Shanghai group' comprising Russia, Tajikistan, Kazhakastan,
Kyrgyztan and China, held discussions recently on the lurking danger said, a
few hundred of these extremists have already concentrated in these regions
of Central Asia.
Kyrgyztan's national security council chief Bolot Zhanuzakov, talking to
mediapersons said, ``Soon the strength of these Afghanistan-trained
terrorist could reach the 5,000 figure''.
Earlier, a few hundred of the Central Asian fundamentalists, mostly Uzbeks
and Tajiks, had reached up to the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, during president
Boris Yeltsin's visit there, the agency adds.
Meanwhile with flames of ethnic violence reaching its own borders, China has
joined ranks with Russia and the three other former Soviet republics to face
the growing menace.
Harping on the `Shanghai group' strength, formed two years ago, all five
have once again voiced their resolve to fight the threat unitedly. The group
was formed to settle their border disputes and check the growth of
fundamentalism from Afghanistan under the Taliban.
After the meeting, an official of the group said the latest meeting of the
`Shanghai group' has targeted the recent concentration of mercenaries and
their local abettors who were using religion to fan ethnic hatred.
Besides, Kyrgyztan sources have said that the Afghan Taliban are harbouring
hopes of creating an `Islamic caliphat' - an extremist state entity - in the
fertile Ferghana Valley and its adjoining areas. This is cause for concern
to Russia which fears southern Kyrghyztan could act as a springboard for
separatists to dismantle the Russian federation. (UNI)
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