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Tajikistan Tries 23 Alleged Islamist Extremists

Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan.
Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan.

KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- Tajikistan is trying 23 men it says are members of a banned Islamic group the government has classified as extremist.

The Khujand City Court in the northern region of Sughd began hearings on March 12.

The suspects were arrested last year on suspicion of membership in Jamaat Ansarullah, which Tajik authorities say is a branch of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

The IMU, which is active in Afghanistan and Pakistan, is on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations and is banned in Central Asian countries and Russia.

It is believed to have links with Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.

Last month, a court in the Sughd region convicted 13 local men of being members of Jamaat Ansarullah and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from 9 to 12 years.