A high-ranking representative of the Islamic State of Afghanistan's defence ministry has announced that up to 8,000 Uzbeks are currently fighting for the Taliban in the northern provinces of Afghanistan. According to him, these gunmen are being led by the notorious warlord Juma Namanghani. The ministry's information indicates that he is based in the province of Baghlan, near to the regional centre of the same name. His gunmen make up the main basis of Taliban units in Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz and Takhar. Russian media have reported that Namanghani's real name is Jumabai Khojyev. He previously served as a paratrooper in Afghanistan and was de-mobbed in 1989. Namanghani returned to Afghanistan in 1993, where he joined the Islamic group Towba (Repentance), which is aiming to create an Islamic state under Shariah law in the Fergana valley. Khojyev is wanted by Uzbek police for numerous crimes ranging from armed attacks and robbery to contract killings. Russian media sources have suggested that Khojyev was trained in Mujahedin camps in Takhar and Kunduz. He is known as an expert of guerrilla warfare and covert sabotage operations.
Russian small missile ships - the Grad Sviyazhsk and the Great Ustyug - set off for a mission to the Mediterranean Sea
President Vladimir Putin has not released an official statement yet about his position on the issue of the pension reform in Russia