Kazakh Security Forces Kill Five Suspected Militants In Aqtobe

By RFE/RLLast updated (GMT/UTC): 10.06.2016 09:39

Kazakh security forces have killed five suspected militants in Aqtobe, the northwestern city near the Russian border where dozens of gunmen carried out deadly attacks on June 5.

The militants were killed as part of a "counterterrorism operation," pushing the total death toll related to the attacks and the ensuing manhunt to 25, including attackers.

Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee announced that special forces stormed an apartment in Aqtobe on June 10 and killed four "terrorists."

According to the statement, police killed "an accomplice of the terrorists" after he opened fire on police on the street.

The statement also said two security officers were wounded, but their lives were not in danger. 

The National Security Committee said those targeted in the raid were suspected of taking part in the June 5 attacks against two gun shops and a National Guard base. Four civilians and three National Guardsmen died in those attacks. On June 9, Kazakhstan observed a national day of mourning to honor those victims.

Security forces are continuing their search for other possible "terrorists" suspected of involvement in the attacks, the National Security Committee said in its June 10 statement.

The Interior Ministry had said before the June 10 operation that 13 suspected attackers had been killed, four injured, and nine arrested. Six were believed to still be at large; it is unclear if they were among the five militants killed on June 10.

There have been no credible claims of responsibility for the attacks.

President Nursultan Nazarbaev has described the attackers as members of "pseudo-religious radical movements" that had received instruction from abroad. Shortly after the attacks, Kazakh police spokesman Almas Sadubaev described the attackers as followers of "nontraditional religious movements," a term often used in Central Asia to describe Islamic extremist groups.

In condemning the attacks, however, the Kazakh upper house of parliament said the attacks were not related to religion.

The rare outbreak of violence follows major protests against planned agricultural land reforms that took place in Kazakhstan in April and May. More than 1,000 activists were detained in relation to those demonstrations, and many received 10 to 15 day jail sentences after being convicted of planning or attending the unsanctioned rallies.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Kazakh Service