[QODLink]
Central & South Asia
Turkmenistan clashes 'kill police'
Sources say security forces battle "religious group" in capital Ashgabat.
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2008 04:59 GMT

At least 20 members of the Turkmenistan's security forces have reportedly been killed in clashes in the capital Ashgabat, according to to media reports and diplomatic sources.

Police battled "a religious group, possibly radical Islamists", according to a diplomatic source quoted by a website set up by
Boris Shikhmuradov, founder of Turkmenistan's opposition Popular Democratic Movement.

"Witnesses said that 20 police were killed and their bodies were taken in secret to an Ashkhabad hospital," the www.gundogar.org website, which is not accessible in Turkmenistan, reported on Saturday.

Information is strictly controlled in the former Soviet republic and state media did not report on the incident.

The reports of clashes could not be independently confirmed but witnnesses told news agencies that there was heavy gunfire throughout the night and the northern suburbs of the capital were surrounded by police.

Other witnesses said that security personnel in armoured personnel carriers were patrolling the streets which remained closed for much of Saturday.

Arkady Dubnov, a Moscow-based reporter for the Vremya Novostei newspaper and expert on Central Asia, told the AFP news agency that sources in Ashgabat had told him of "tanks and armoured vehicles opening fire on a drinking water factory" where an armed group was hiding.

The US embassy in Turkmenistan warned Americans to stay away from the northern districts of the city.

The Central Asian nation, bordering Iran and Afghanistan, has a predominantly Muslim population and large oil and gas reserves.

Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of external websites

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
join our mailing list