Tajikistan's prosecutors said Wednesday that nearly 50 young men from banned Islamist groups have been arrested on grounds they were preparing to join jihadists in Syria.
The men, aged between 20 and 30 and allegedly members of banned groups, were accused of "organising a criminal group for participating in armed conflicts or warfare in other countries," a statement by the regional prosecutor's office in northern Sogd region said.
They were arrested in northern Tajikistan and "were planning to leave to participate in the Syrian war on the side of the armed opposition," it said, adding that they were suspected also of preparing to fight with Islamic State groups.
Authorities in Tajikistan, a mountainous Muslim country that is Central Asia's most impoverished former Soviet republic, have said that 300 Tajik nationals have fought against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Tajikistan, which has been led since 1992 by former Soviet apparatchik Emomali Rakhmon, has arrested scores of people on suspicion of extremist activities in recent months.