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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 May, 2005, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Uzbek rebel spells out aims
By Ian MacWilliam
In Korasuv, Uzbek-Kyrgyz border

Bakhtiyor Rakhimov, the leader of rebels claiming to control the Uzbek border town of Korasuv, about 470 km (293 miles) east of the Uzbek capital Tashkent, 18/05/2005
Mr Rakhimov said he was a simple farmer
The man apparently in charge of a local uprising in the Uzbek town of Korasuv has said the region's people want to establish an Islamic administration.

Bakhtior Rakhimov said that the town's people would take charge of local government and that they were willing to fight for freedom if necessary.

Mr Rakhimov, a farmer from a prominent local clan, said people could no longer tolerate President Islam Karimov.

Mr Rakhimov has no official position, but is greeted with respect in Korasuv.

He has a large group of active supporters, but the exact nature of the group is unclear.

They say they are simply farmers, and they wear the traditional white smock and high leather boots of an Uzbek farmer.

Religion plays a strong role in their plans. Mr Rakhimov said they want to establish an Islamic administration based on the Koran.

But they also seem to want a society based on the traditional Uzbek rural life of this fertile Fergana region.

It is unclear whether they may have any connections to wider Islamic groups, or to what extent they might be connected to the mysterious organisers of the anti-government protest in nearby Andijan last week, where troops shot dead possibly hundreds of demonstrators.

President Karimov has accused people he calls "Islamic extremists" of being behind the Andijan protests.

But it is clear the underlying problem feeding resentment of the government here is growing poverty, and Tashkent's many restrictions of free trade and private enterprise.

Local people say with no jobs they can no longer afford to feed their families


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