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Friday, July 21, 2006

Uzbekistan arrests two Tajik spies

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, July 21 (UPI) -- Uzbekistan's National Security Service has arrested Furkat Tuygunov, a Tajik citizen, on espionage charges.

The Regnum news agency reported Thursday that a high-ranking National Security Service officer had said Tuygunov admitted during his interrogation that he had been recruited by Tajik Ministry of Security agents.

Tuygunov allegedly said that Ministry of Security agents trained him for operations in Uzbekistan, including potential assassinations of targeted Uzbeks.

According to the Uzbek report, Tuygunov allegedly said his instructions were personally conveyed to him by Rustam Makhmudov, a high-ranking counterintelligence Ministry of Security official.

Tuygunov is not the first alleged Tajik spy to be apprehended by Uzbek counterintelligence services. On June 22, the Uzbek media reported that an ethnic Tajik had been arrested in Uzbekistan's southern Surkhandarya region.

During his interrogation, Murodullo Zhuraev allegedly said he had been smuggled into Uzbekistan to assassinate some high-ranking officials and had been entrusted with the mission by Anvar Taghoimurodov, a senior Tajik Interior Ministry official. Taghoimurodov subsequently dismissed the Uzbek report as "groundless and slanderous."

Relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have been traditionally tense since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the last month, Uzbekistan has arrested two Tajiks it claims were trained to spy and assassinate leading Uzbek government officials
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