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Kazakh Journalist Missing For 20 Days

(RFE/RL) ALMATY, April 18, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A Kazakh reporter has disappeared after writing an investigative article for a local newspaper, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported.

Oralgaisha Omarshanova was last seen on March 30 after publishing a story about recent violence in a village in southern Kazakhstan in which several people were killed.

A colleague, Mukhit Iskakov, told journalists in Almaty today that Omarshanova had bought a weapon to protect herself.

"Oralgaisha told me that she had received several threats by telephone," he said. "After that, she got a licence and bought a Winchester rifle in Qaraganda. She officially registered it in Astana, and then we moved to Almaty together."

Omarshanova has worked for the "Law and Justice" newspaper for about a year and has written a number of stories linking businessmen to corruption.

Kazakh Interior Ministry spokesman Bagdat Kojhakhmetov told RFE/RL that police were investigating Omarshanova's disappearance but said they didn't have any information on her whereabouts yet.

(with material from Reuters)

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