Friday, August 17, 2012 -
Kazakh security forces said Friday they shot dead nine suspected militants during an early morning operation against an armed group in the southern city of Almaty.
The police said the nine they described as “terrorists” were killed in a shootout that erupted when they resisted arrest.
One police officer was injured in the raid on a house in the village of Tan, located around 10 miles southwest of Kazakhstan’s largest city, local media reported.
Local residents had been evacuated before police moved in at 5.30 am local time, the authorities said.
The general prosecutor’s office said the group was linked to a house fire in the same village on July 11 which killed eight people, including four children.
Investigators said the fire was caused by an explosion and they found weapons, ammunition, and religious literature at the site. Prosecutors said the house was being used as a base from which to prepare acts of terror.
Authorities said the shootout is unrelated to the grisly killings of 11 people in a park near Almaty. Police are still searching for the killers.
Central Asia’s most populated country has seen a string of attacks over the last year, ending the perception of Kazakhstan as a bastion of stability in an unstable region.
Yermukhamet Yertysbayev, political adviser to the Kazakh president, denied suggestions that the country is experiencing an Islamic renaissance.
"Islam has never been as influential in Kazakhstan as in Iran or Saudi Arabia. That is why it would be wrong to speak about any Islamic renaissance," he said in an interview with the Central Asia Monitor newspaper. Kazakhstan is a secular state, he added.