Authorities in Tajikistan say armed groups led by a disaffected deputy defense minister have mounted attacks that have left at least eight police officers and nine militants dead.

In contrast with neighboring Afghanistan, the former Soviet Central Asian nation of Tajikistan rarely sees such bloodshed and the unrest is likely to unnerve the government.

It is not yet clear what lay behind Friday's alleged attacks, but government statements indicate those involved were actively involved in fighting with armed opposition forces during the civil war of the 1990s and are linked to the moderate Islamic Revival Party, which has just been banned.