Uzbekistan Accuses Neighbors of Aiding Rebels: Youths Trained in Chechnya, Afghanistan, Officials Say

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Officials from the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan yesterday accused the governments of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Chechnya of training hundreds of Uzbek youths to wage a "holy war" of terror in the former Soviet republic.

A group of fundamentalist Muslim rebels were behind a string of explosions in the capital of Tashkent in February directed at President Islam Karimov, officials told reporters and analysts at the National Press Club in Washington.

Uzbek Ambassador Sodyq Safaev said that Chechen militants, as well as factions led by exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, are behind terrorists attacks in his country.

Bin Laden is believed responsible for twin U.S. embassy bombings in Africa that killed more than 200 last year.

The ambassador also named warlord Juma Namangan as one of the perpetrators. In the mid-1990s the warlord fought with Islamic rebels in a civil war in neighboring Tajikstan, and later with the now-ruling Taleban in Afghanistan.

"Some of the Uzbek groups have been recruited and trained in military camps in the Chechen Republic," Mr. Safaev said.

He said Uzbek youths also have gone to Afghanistan for training. "They have announced a [holy war] against the government of Uzbekistan," he said.

Outbreaks of violence have become common in Uzbekistan and other parts of Central Asia, where Islamic groups have squared off against secular governments established after the Soviet collapse in 1991.

Pakistan's political attache, Naeem Khan, denied any connection between his government and terrorism in Uzbekistan.

"Pakistan has been itself victim of terrorism. …