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Kyrgyz Interior Minister Says 'Terrorist Attacks' By Group Prevented

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliev says a series of terrorist acts was thwarted last week, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Rysaliev said in Bishkek that nine suspects were arrested last week while allegedly preparing to carry out terrorist attacks in the capital and in the southern cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad. Police reportedly confiscated some 15 kilograms of explosives from the suspects.

He said the "terrorist acts" were being planned for the most populous districts of the three cities.

Rysaliev was speaking hours before a deadly gun battle during a raid on suspected Islamist militants.

Rysaliev said the group of men arrested last week has no connection with radical Islamic groups. He said they were pursuing separatist goals.

Rysaliev added that some of those arrested last week are Kyrgyz, some ethnic Russians, and some ethnic Uzbeks, but all are Kyrgyz citizens. The Kyrgyz National Security Service is investigating the case.

Meanwhile, security measures at public places in Bishkek, Osh, and Jalal-Abad were intensified.

Rysaliev called on all citizens to inform law-enforcement officials about any suspicious events or activities.