The Tajik Internal Affairs Ministry has confirmed that former Tajik Opposition Commander Mamadbokir Mamadbokirov, also known as Baqir, has been killed by security forces in their ongoing “anti-terrorism operations” in Khorgo. According to the Bomdod news agency, Baqir was shot dead by a sniper in the Boine district. Boine is located below Khufak and in front of Barkhorog (Upper Khorog), the residence and main base of Bakir’s supporters.
Mamadbokir Mamadbokirov, the former chief of the Murghab border-guard unit, has long been a target of Dushanbe’s security forces. During the 1992-1997 Civil War, he fought with the Tajik Opposition Forces which opposed the failing Communist Government, eventually pushing its capitulation. While many Opposition fighters went on to form the core of the Tajik National Army, many like Mamadbokirov returned to the GBAO.
On February 23, 2008, when an armed group loyal to Mamadbokirov, attacked the Interior Ministry building in Khorog, the Interior Ministry gave Mamadbokirov’s gang until 6 p.m. local time on February 26 to surrender and hand over their weapons. Mamadbokirov ignored the deadline and has since had tenuous ties with Dushanbe. Criminal proceedings were again instituted against Bakir in January 2022 on charges of insulting and beating a government official. The head of the Badakhshan education department, Lutfullo Navruzov, accused Boqir of insulting and beating him on the evening of January 29 and evicting him from his home on the top floor of the education department building in the Barkhorog neighborhood. He had denied that Navruzov had been beaten, saying, “I only had a paternal conversation with the teacher.”
His death is sure to sour the ongoing escalation between local militants and the National government.
As we covered earlier this week, the Tajik government has committed hundreds of troops to the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, or GBAO, a highland territory with a long border with Afghanistan. The unrest began in November when a local Pamiri boy, the ethnic majority in the region, was killed by police. The Tajik government refused to initiate a probe, thus instigated demonstrations in a historically separatist leaning area near Rushan.
In the last 72 hours, local residents have claimed up to 200 civilians have been killed since protests in Khorgo and along major highways outside of Rushan have been broken up by security forces who were bussed in from the capital, Dushanbe.