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Iran condemns assassination of Tajik Culture Minister

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi condemned the assassination ...

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi condemned the assassination of Tajikistan's Culture Minister Abdurakhim Rakhimov, IRNA reports. Asefi said the `inhuman' move during celebrations, marking the 10th anniversary of Tajikistan's independence, is aimed at harming the fragile peace in the republic. He expressed regret over the event on behalf of the Iranian nation and government and voiced sympathy with Tajik government and nation over the `bitter' event.

Asefi said assassination as a `disgraceful' phenomenon which should be condemned. The Islamic Republic of Iran is confident that such `blind' measures will not leave a mere effect on determination of Tajikistan to establish durable security and peace, said Asefi, adding that self-restraint and measures of Tajik statesmen will overcome the unfavorable moves.

Rakhimov was shot dead by unknown assailants early on Saturday in what the government described as `a terrorist act designed to destabilize the country'. In the latest political killing to hit the impoverished former Soviet Central Asian state, Rakhimov, 49, was gunned down as he was leaving his house in the capital Dushanbe, police said. The minister was hit by five bullets and died shortly after. Police described his killer as a man of around 25, armed with a pistol fitted with a silencer. An accomplice was waiting for him in a getaway car. Rakhimov was appointed culture minister in January, after having managed for three years the culture department of the Tajik presidency. He was one of the organizers of the 10th anniversary of Tajikistan's independence planned for September 9.

The killing bore certain similarities to the assassination in April of a Tajikistan security minister, First Deputy Interior Minister Khabib Sanginov, which the country's authorities also called `a terrorist act'.

Sanginov was shot dead, along with his driver and two bodyguards, moments after leaving his apartment on his way to work. Sanginov, 50, was a key opposition figure allied with Islamic rebels during the country's civil war before entering the Tajik government two years ago