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Uzbek prosecutor charges Muslims in terror cases

October 25, 2000
Web posted at: 12:23 AM HKT (1623 GMT)

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (Reuters) -- Prosecutors in the Central Asian state of Uzbekistan Tuesday accused 12 members of an outlawed Islamic group of murder and terrorist acts, which they say killed at least 73 people.

Uzbekistan has launched a crackdown on what it says are fundamentalist Muslim groups plotting to overthrow President Islam Karimov's secular rule. He narrowly escaped death in bomb blasts in February 1999, which he blamed on the groups.

Human rights activists say the crackdown sometimes violates the rights of peaceful Muslims.

The prosecutor's office has now handed over the results of an investigation to the Supreme Court and asked it to start trial proceedings against the 12 suspects, according to a statement published in the official media.

Among the accused, all of whom belong to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, are warlords Dzhuma Namangani and Takhir Yuldashev and the exiled leader of banned opposition party Erk (Freedom), Mukhammed Salikh.

All of them stand accused of plotting to overthrow the government through violent means and of orchestrating the 1999 bomb attacks. Of the 12 men named, only three are under arrest.

Namangani and Yuldashev are believed to be hiding in Afghanistan after leading incursions into Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Salikh lives in an undisclosed location in Europe.

The document said Yuldashev and Namangani had been involved in creating radical Muslim organizations in the early 1990s and helping the Islamic opposition in the 1992-97 civil war in neighboring Tajikistan.

The men were also accused of helping set up training camps for rebels in Afghanistan, which neighbors Uzbekistan, as well as a series of murders and armed attacks.

More than 100 people have been arrested for taking part in the February 1999 attack on Karimov and six already executed.

Central Asian leaders as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin have often talked of radical Islam as one of the gravest threats facing their countries.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

ASIANOW


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