Thursday, May 31, 2012 -
Kazakhstan’s officials said Thursday the charred bodies of 12 frontier guards and a forest ranger have been found at a burned-out Kazakh checkpoint on the border with China.
The frontier post near the town of Usharal in southeast Kazakhstan, not far from the Kazakh business capital Almaty, was manned by 15 guards, according to a senior official from the country’s border guard service.
Security forces are searching for the remaining three servicemen, while forensic experts are investigating the scene, first deputy chief of the border guard service Turganbek Stambekov told journalists.
Stambekov would not say if investigators thought the victims died in the blaze or were killed in an attack.
They found weapons belonging to the border guards at the scene, but were immediately unable to determine whether they were used, owing to heavy smoke residue from the fire.
The guns will be subject to forensic analysis, he told the press.
“Interior Ministry National Security Frontier Forces and Internal Affairs are carrying out operative-investigations and search activities," the Kazakh government news agency Kazinform cited the official as saying.
There have been no reports of violence along the 960-mile frontier with China in the two decades of Kazakh independence from the Soviet Union, although the Kazakh government shut down last year a multi-million dollar smuggling ring in the border town Khorgos.