Turkmenistan Says Gang Neutralized

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan — Turkmenistan's government said it had neutralized a gang of drug traffickers after a prolonged shootout in the capital of the Central Asian nation.

Independent media reported gun battles Friday and Saturday in the streets of the capital, Ashgabat, between a radical Islamic group and security forces. Independent web site Hronika Turkmenistana said nine security officers were killed. Earlier reports had said at least 20 officers were killed.

The claims could not be confirmed because information is strictly controlled in the authoritarian former Soviet state. The government said in a statement Sunday that it "neutralized" the gang, but did not say whether there were any casualties or arrests.

Police besieged the militants in a four-story building of an abandoned factory, witnesses said. Security forces used grenade throwers and armored personnel carriers and suffered casualties, they said.