Turkmenistan: Facts and Rumors about Shooting in Ashgabat
Turkmen police officials say they neutralized a drug gang on Saturday, however, local analysts suspect much stronger forces were involved in skirmishes with security services.
Criminal gang involved in drug trafficking was neutralized in capital Ashgabat on September 13, official news agency of Turkmenistan said.
It did not specify whether the members of the group were killed or detained. Earlier reports by the oppositional Gundogar agency said that a fighting broke out between religious militant group and police in the district of Ashgabat known as Khitrovka, killing 20 policemen.
Later sources of the Russian Vremya Novostei newspaper reported that well-equipped militants with grenade throwers set in the plant in northeast of Ashgabat.
Heavy shooting shook several neighborhoods in the capital. Representatives of the US Embassy in Turkmenistan confirmed to the Radio Liberty the shooting continued throughout the whole night. At the same time, Russia Today reports that staff at the Russian Embassy said they had heard nothing that night.
Chronicles of Turkmenistan, human rights portal, reported on Sunday that Turkmen security services lost nine of their staff members and could not eradicate armed militants. According to unverified information, Moscow has sent its personnel from the Federal Security Service and two religious radicals were killed.
Although two militants were physically eliminated, a computer portrait of one of the alleged terrorists can be seen in every street not only in the capital but in other cities in northern and southern Turkmenistan, according to Chronicles of Turkmenistan.
Political observers of the Turkmen Iskra oppositional newspaper say the scale of military operation in central Ashgabat does not look like neutralization of “high loafers” or religious radicals, which have been virtually nonexistent before. Iskra observers suspect that opposition attempted to “restore constitutional regime” but was quelled down with force.
Mobile and landline telephone communications were cut off from September 10 in Khitrovki, the Turkmen Iskra continues, while the whole district was cordoned off by heavy trucks. “It might be that [president] Berdymukhammedov was afraid that so-called militants could access the central part of the city and mobilize population for actions,” an unidentified source told the newspaper.
Turkmen top leadership uncovered plans of the opposition and neutralized the group saying to the public they were drug dealers and Islamic militants, the newspaper concludes.
Political observer of the Vremya Novostei newspaper, Arcady Dubnov, thinks that fighting between drug barons from different Turkmen clans could be behind the shooting.
None of these versions have been yet verified as any information remains under strict control in Turkmenistan.