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Central Asia correspondent Louise Hidalgo
"The attack has heightened security fears ahead of the elections"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 16 February, 2000, 18:35 GMT
Bomb kills Tajik minister




A prominent candidate in Tajikistan's parliamentary elections has been killed in an attack on his car less than two weeks ahead of the vote.

Police said the explosion was caused by a radio-controlled device hidden under the back seat of a jeep which was carrying Deputy Security Minister Shamsullo Dzhabirov.

The car was leaving a factory where Mr Dzhabirov had been attending an election rally with the mayor of Dushanbe, Makhmadsaid Ubaidullayev.

Witnesses said the vehicle was badly twisted by the blast.

Both men were taken to hospital, where Mr Dzhabirov died.

The mayor was not reported to be seriously injured.

'Terrorist act'

A high-ranking government official said the explosion was a terrorist act aimed at destabilising the situation in the republic on the eve of parliamentary elections.

He did not rule out the possibility that this was an attempt on the life of Mr Ubaidullayev, who is a key political figure and a close ally of President Emomali Rakhmonov.

The president was reported to have called an emergency meeting to discuss the security situation.

The attackers have yet to be found or identified.

Elections

Mr Dzhabirov was a candidate in the 27 February elections to the lower house of parliament, representing the pro-presidential People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan.

President Rakhmonov won a new seven-year term in elections last November, which foreign observers criticised as undemocratic.

The creation of a new bicameral legislature is officially the final phase of the 1997 peace accord which put an end to the 1992-1997 Tajik civil war.

Armed attacks are not uncommon in Dushanbe, and violence is often linked to feuds between clans, political rivalries or the booming trade in opium and heroin passing from southern neighbour Afghanistan to markets in Europe and beyond.

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See also:
07 Nov 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Tajik election victory is challenged
26 Sep 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Tajiks vote on constitutional changes
17 Aug 99 |  Asia-Pacific
Explosions anger Tajikistan

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