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Kazakh Security Official: 150 Kazakh Citizens Fight Abroad

  • RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

ASTANA -- A Kazakh National Security Committee (UQK) official says some 150 Kazakhs are fighting alongside militant groups abroad.

UQK Deputy Chairman Nurghali Bilisbekov told reporters in Astana on March 19 that in addition to those 150, about 200 relatives -- militants' wives, widows, and children -- are also abroad.

Authorities in Kazakhstan and other mainly Muslim former Soviet republics in Central Asia have said hundreds of their citizens have fought alongside Islamic State militants and other extremists in Syria and Iraq.

They have expressed concern about a security threat from militants returning home.

Bilisbekov said that Kazakh authorities had prevented some 80 attempts to recruit Kazakh nationals to fight alongside extremists abroad in 2014.

He said the UQK prevented a Kazakh citizen who was trained in Syria from carrying out a a series of terror attacks in Kazakhstan earlier this year.

Bilisbekov also said Kyrgyz authorities had detained a Kazakh national who planned terrorist attacks in the two nations and extradited him to Kazakhstan.