DUSHANBE, January 21, 2011, Asia-Plus  -- Tajik government forces continue to hunt for followers of militant commander Alovuddin Davlatov in Tojikobod, Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service reports.

The effort is part of months-long counterterrorism operations that have cost dozens of Tajik soldiers their lives.

Tajikistan''s president, Emomali Rahmon, this week used a cabinet meeting to order Tajikistan''s "power" ministries to step up the fight against organized crime, religious extremism, and terrorism.

He also rebuffed perceived pressure for government-level sackings over miscues in the counterterrorism campaign.

Abdughaffor Amonov, deputy head of the Tojikobod police department, which borders the Rasht district 200 kilometers east of Dushanbe, told RFE/RL on January 19 that government forces were searching for Muhammadkarim Ibrohimov (nicknamed Kamol), who joined an armed group headed by Alovuddin Davlatov (Ali Bedaki).

Ibrohimov, 35, was born in the village of Mullo Temur in Tajikobod.  Amonov rejected as unfounded reports that another militant leader, Abdullo Rahimov (nicknamed Mullo Abdullo), is also hiding in the area.

Amonov said Ibrohimov and some five or six other former inhabitants of the Tojikobod district were trained at Islamic extremist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and want to destabilize eastern Tajikistan.

The Tajik military''s counterterrorism operation in Rasht began in mid-September and has led to the deaths of at least 60 soldiers, including 25 killed in an attack on September 19.

The Interior and Defense ministries believe Mullo Abdullo and Ali Bedaki were behind that attack.

In early January, the Interior Ministry said Bedaki and seven other militants were killed in an operation in the village of Runob in Rasht.