DUSHANBE, November 24, 2015, Asia-Plus -- As many as more than 700 Tajik nationals are fighting alongside Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria, Tajik security officer has claimed.

Organized by the Institute for Peace and war Reporting (IPWR) and Sozandagoni Vatan (Homeland Builders), which is the youth wing of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a conference titled “Youth Radicalization: Its Causes and Ways of Prevention” took place in Dushanbe on November 23.

In a report released at the conference, Bahriddin Mahmadov, an officer of the State Committee for national Security (SCNS)’s office in Dushanbe, noted yesterday that more than 700 Tajik jihadists have traveled to Syria and Iraq and 300 of them have already been killed.

“To-date, Tajik law enforcement authorities have identified 417 Tajik nationals fighting alongside Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq and 87 of them are residents of Dushanbe,” Mahmadov said, noting that 370 criminal proceedings have been instituted against 394 Tajik nationals participating in foreign military conflicts.

He also noted that some groups and “so-called independent media outlets” accused the Tajik government of carrying out anti-religious campaign.  “The state’s policy is not aimed against religion; on contrary, it is aimed at preserving the national culture and religion is part of it [national culture],” Mahmadov said, noting that the number of mosques has increased in the country from 17 during the Soviet era to 4,012.