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Eleven Bodies Found In Kazakh National Park Near Almaty


Kazakh authorities have launched investigations into the apparent killings of at least 11 men and women in the Ile-Alatau national park in southern Almaty Oblast.

Seven bodies with stab wounds, including two burned bodies, were found on August 13 in and near two premises used by local forest rangers.

On August 14, three more badly burned bodies were found on the premises, while one body was discovered in a nearby ravine.

Only five bodies of the 11 have been identified.

One of them is Panayot Zakharopulo, a senior ranger known for his actions against local poachers, who was among the seven killed. Some of the victims found on August 13 appeared to be members of Zakharopulo's family and fellow rangers.

Talking to journalists on August 14, Kazakh Interior Minister Qalmukhanbet Qasymov declined to give any details, saying only that the killings may have been the result of a dispute of an unkown nature.

According to Qasymov, one of the forest rangers' premises was thoroughly examined and nothing seemed to be stolen from it; money and rifles were all accounted for. The investigation continues.

Boder-Guard Killings

The incident takes place less than two months after a forest ranger and 14 border guards were killed and their bodies burned at a remote outpost along the Kazakh-Chinese border in the same region.

One of the border guards deployed at the outpost then, Private Vladislav Chelakh, 19, was later found alive and charged with killing the 15 men.

Chelakh, who initially confessed to the killings, later recanted his confession and pressed charges against his interrogators, saying they had tortured him and threatened to have him raped in a cell unless he confessed.

On August 13, Chelakh was officially questioned by officers investigating his torture claims. A psychiatric examination earlier in July found Chelakh sane.

With reporting by KazTAG, Kazinform, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service
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