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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tajik Colonel Moves Troops Back to Base

SHAKHRINAU, Tajikistan -- A rebellious Tajik commander agreed on Thursday to bow to President Imamali Rakhmonov's demand to pull his troops back to barracks, ending a standoff in the volatile former Soviet republic.

"We will be leaving in half an hour," Colonel Makhmud Khudoyberdyev told reporters in the western town of Shakhrinau on Thursday, a day after he moved his troops to nearby Tursunzade in pursuit of an independent armed group.

The unauthorized intervention by Khudoyberdyev, who led an anti-government revolt a year ago, had appeared to alarm the beleaguered Tajik leadership in the capital Dushanbe.

Rakhmonov ordered Khudoyberdyev to start pulling back to his base in the southern town of Kurgan-Tyube by late on Wednesday afternoon but the commander ignored the deadline.

The commander finally said he would follow orders on Thursday. He said he would pull most of his troops out, leaving only "a mobile group" to re-establish order.

He said he did not think there was any disagreement with Rakhmonov "because the president needs a strong army."

Khudoyberdyev, who accused the group of stealing weapons from his men last month, said there had been a clash on Wednesday morning but that the group's leader, local strongman Kodir Abdulayev, had since fled into nearby hills.