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Kyrgyz Official Says Slain Fighters 'Planned Further Attacks'

Kyrgyz Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliev

Kyrgyz Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliev

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliev says two gunmen killed near Bishkek this week were behind a recent bomb blast in Bishkek and had been planning further attacks in the capital, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Rysaliev told RFE/RL on January 6 the men -- killed in a shootout on January 5 in the suburb of Besh-Kungey -- belonged to a group founded to carry out terrorist acts against police and government officials.

Describing them as "common criminals [and] terrorists" acting under the guise of Islamic militants, Rysaliev said the police have evidence that the group is responsible for a bomb blast on November 30 near a stadium in Bishkek and for a car bomb defused outside Bishkek police headquarters on December 25.

He also said the group had planned further attacks targeting several markets and shopping areas in Bishkek.

State Committee for National Security head Keneshbek Duishebaev said last week that nine people detained several days earlier in connection with those two incidents were members of a "jihadist" religious-extremist organization.

Officials on January 5 said the gunmen killed in Besh-Kungey were responsible for shooting dead three police officers in Bishkek on January 4. Rysaliev declined to comment on who might have provided the weapons cache found at the site where the gunmen were killed.

Rysaliev also ruled out any connection between the group and either the April protests that toppled President Kurmanbek Bakiev or the ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the southern Osh and Jalal-Abad districts in June in which some 400 people died.

General Artur Medetbekov, head of Kyrgyzstan's Alfa counterterror unit, told RFE/RL on January 6 that Zhenish Babaraimov, an Alfa member killed in the shootout on January 5, was among those security personnel facing criminal charges for his role in the bid by security personnel to crush the antigovernment protests in Bishkek on April 7 that culminated in Bakiev's ouster.

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