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A court in Tajikistan has convicted 34 people on charges of involvement in a terrorist group and handed them long prison terms.

A court in the northern city of Khujand on Thursday sentenced the convicts accused of belonging to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan to prison terms ranging between eight and 28 years. Other charges included murder and attempting to violently overthrow the government.

Authorities in Tajikistan, an impoverished nation that shares a long and poorly secured border with Afghanistan, saw a spike in militant activity in 2010 that led to the death of dozens of troops.

Officials in the authoritarian former Soviet nation insist radical Islamism is a genuine threat to stability, but some observers say the clampdowns on devotees of conservative Islam is an attempt to smash dissent.

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