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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 March, 2004, 22:15 GMT 23:15 UK
Uzbek siege man blows himself up
Tashkent police check a vehicle
Police have been stopping and searching vehicles in Tashkent
Anti-terrorism police in Uzbekistan say a suspected militant has blown himself up after a five-hour siege at a house in the capital, Tashkent.

The man, who has not been named, had taken refuge in the house after setting off an explosion in the south-west of the city which injured two policemen.

Police said he had taken no hostages and no one else was killed.

At least 42 people have died in bomb blasts and shootings in the capital, Tashkent, and Bukhara since Sunday.

Uzbek security forces have now arrested 30 people suspected of involvement in the recent violence.

A foreign ministry official said the suspects were all Wahhabis, members of a strict Islamic group originating in Saudi Arabia.


However, the term is traditionally used pejoratively to describe militant Islam in parts of the former Soviet Union.

The BBC's Monica Whitlock in Tashkent says large-scale arrests are the usual government response to any unrest.

Tashkent is putting blame for the attacks firmly on the shoulders of militant Islamic groups, possibly with a link to al-Qaeda.

Shoot-out

President Islam Karimov said the insurgents were trying to break up Uzbekistan's alliance with the US.

Among the possible culprits he included Hizb ut-Tahrir, a group which advocates imposing Sharia law but says it disavows violence, and the home-grown Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), which wants to overthrow Uzbekistan's secular government.

However, Oleg Bichenov, deputy chief of Tashkent anti-terrorism police, said this had not been borne out in extensive questioning of those in custody.

Tashkent clean up
Residents living near Tuesday's siege have been clearing up
Mr Bichenov said his forces were now combing the city for anyone involved.

On Tuesday, 20 suspected militants and three police officers died in a five-hour shoot-out at a house on the Yagandach housing estate in northern Tashkent.

The siege only ended when the insurgents blew themselves up.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell offered to help investigate the attacks in a telephone call to his Uzbek counterpart.

The US and Uzbekistan have been close allies since the 11 September 2001 attacks, after which the Uzbek government made its airspace and military facilities available to US forces operating in Afghanistan.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Mike Donkin
"These latest attacks are the bloodiest here for five years"



SEE ALSO:
'Terror' blasts rock Uzbekistan
29 Mar 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Causes of Uzbek unrest
31 Mar 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Worries for West in Uzbek unrest
30 Mar 04  |  Asia-Pacific
The US-Uzbekistan trade-off
05 Oct 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Hizb ut Tahrir
27 Aug 03  |  Newsnight
Country profile: Uzbekistan
14 Jan 04  |  Country profiles


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