Friday, June 17, 2005

Peeance and Freeance


MOSCOW, June 17 - Uzbek law enforcement and security ministries implicated by witnesses in the deadly crackdown in the city of Andijon last month have for years received training and equipment from counterterrorism programs run by the United States, according to American officials and Congressional records.

The security aid, provided by several United States agencies, has been intended in part to improve the abilities of soldiers and law enforcement officers from the Uzbek intelligence service, military and Ministry of Internal Affairs, the national law enforcement service. Besides equipment aid, at least hundreds of special forces soldiers and security officers, many of whom fight terrorism, have received training.

Witnesses and American officials say the Uzbek Army, law enforcement and intelligence service were all present at the crackdown. Among them was a special Internal Affairs counterterrorism unit known as Bars, which has two or three members who trained in a course sponsored by the State Department for crisis-response commanders in Louisiana in 2004, according to the State Department.

It is not clear whether these specific officers were present in Andijon, although their unit was. Several United States officials said they had no evidence that any of the hundreds of individual troops or security officers with American training took part in the violence. At the same time, however, they said they were not certain that no American-trained personnel were present.

The uncertainty, officials said, is one reason an independent investigation of the violence is necessary. "Until Uzbek authorities allow an independent and credible investigation to occur, we cannot know who was responsible or was involved," said Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman.