Kazakhstan: 5 militants, 2 troops die in clash

Last Updated: Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 20:53

Almaty: A clash outside
Kazakhstan`s commercial capital has left five militants and
two government troops dead, prosecutors said on Sunday, violence
that could unnerve authorities trying to contain a surge in
Islamist and other militant activity in the Central Asian
nation.

The fighting occurred as security services in Boraldai
village cornered suspects wanted in the murder last month of
two policemen in nearby Almaty, the Prosecutor General said in
a statement.

Authorities did not name the targeted group or give its
affiliation, but said it was armed and planning attacks in
Almaty.

The clash fits into a broader pattern of Islamist-related
violence in which more than 30 people have been killed this
year in Kazakhstan, an oil-rich, mainly Muslim nation of 17
million along Russia`s southern border.

The ex-Soviet state had been largely untouched by
Islamist violence since gaining independence in 1991. But the
killing of two police officers in western Kazakhstan in June
was linked by authorities to indigenous terrorist groups.

In November, a radical Islamist killed seven people,
including five law enforcement officers, in a rampage in the
southern city of Taraz. That prompted security operations in
which two more police officers and nine suspected militants
were killed.

Authorities have responded to the wave of violence by
passing a law that tightens registration rules for religious
groups. Supporters of the bill said it would help combat
religious extremism.

The law marked a reversal of President Nursultan
Nazarbayev`s earlier attempts to cast Kazakhstan as a land of
religious tolerance. Some argue the legislation may further
marginalise and radicalise devout Muslims.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 20:53

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