High alert: suspected militants attack Kazakh military base

The Interior Ministry of Kazakhstan said that militant groups are behind the deadly attack in Aktobe city. A group of militants hijacked a bus and rammed the gate at a military facility.

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Kazakhstan remains on high alert a day after authorities said  "militant groups" killed six people at a military base and two gun stores in the northwestern city of Aktobe.

As per local media reports, firearms stores were closed down and security guards were stationed near the stores in Aktobe and several major cities, including Almaty, Aqtau, and the capital Astana.

Four of the attackers were arrested and some fled the scene during the anti-terrorism operation, the interior ministry said.

A statement issued by the interior ministry read, "The situation in Aktobe is stable, businesses and public transport are functioning normally." Aktobe is one of three oil cities in the west of Kazakhstan, along with Aktau and Atyrau.

However authorities did not disclose the specific identity of any group and the motive behind the attacks. A group of militants hijacked a bus and used it to ram the gate at the national guard base where they started indiscriminately shooting leaving three servicemen dead.

Internet connections in the city were suspended shortly after the unrest broke out fueling online speculation of a military coup against President Nursultan Nazarbayeve, as per the reports of local media. 

Police arrest a person who participated in the protest against the government

The country is currently in the grip of political and social unrest. The decision of Kazakhstan's government regarding farmland privatisation plans led to unrest in the country and thousands of people took to the streets against it. 

The plan was to privatise large areas of farmland while allowing foreigners to lease it for up to 25 years. Under the current regulations, the lease of such land is allowed for a maximum of ten years.

Protests have taken place in several cities over the last two months against this decision. Yielding to the protests, the government has set up a reform commission recently to review the decision, inviting the opposition leaders for deliberations.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev has ruled the country since 1989. This marks the first time he is facing such massive discontent from the public.

Police action against demonstrators

In a recent move, Kazakhstan's security service on Monday accused local businessman Tokhtar Tuleshov of financing recent anti-government protests with the aim of seizing power.

"His plan included destabilising the situation in the country by creating flashpoints, organising protests and mass unrest," a spokesman for the National Security Committee told reporters, referring to Tuleshov who was detained in January.


TRTWorld and agencies