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Kazakh Officials Say Terrorist Group Involved In Atyrau Bombings

Jund al-Khilafah ("Soldiers of the Caliphate") had previously issued a statement on YouTube warning that it would take action against the Kazakh authorities.
Jund al-Khilafah ("Soldiers of the Caliphate") had previously issued a statement on YouTube warning that it would take action against the Kazakh authorities.
ASTANA -- The Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office says that four alleged members of a terrorist group called Jund Al-Khilafah (Soldiers of the Caliphate) were responsible for bombings in the western city of Atyrau on October 31, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The comments by Prosecutor-General spokesman Nurdaulet Suindikov mark the first time authorities have pinned the blame for the two blasts on the little-known group, which earlier claimed responsibility.

Suindikov told journalists in Astana on November 9 that the men were followers of Aleksandr Tikhomirov (aka Said Buryatsky), a well-known jihad ideologist killed by Russian security forces in Ingushetia in March 2010.

Suindikov added that the four were also connected with Jund Al-Khilafah, a "brigade" of foreign fighters based on the Afghan-Pakistan border. He said the four are Meirambek Usabekov (born in 1986), Merkhat Qalqamanov (born in 1988), Alimzhan Sagenov (born in 1983), and Bauyrzhan Sultanghaliev (born in 1988).

Sultanghaliev died in one of the blasts. The other three are currently in custody.

Suindikov said that in September the men established contact with Jund Al-Khilafah which, he said, was founded by Kazakhs Rinat Khabidolda, Orynbasar Munatov, and Damir Znaliev with the aim of "launching a jihad on the territory of Kazakhstan."

Suindikov said the four young men put together two explosive devices in Sultanghaliev's apartment last month. He said they also bought street cleaners' uniforms to disguise themselves in order to plant the homemade bombs in dumpsters near the Atyrau prosecutor's office and a local government building.

Suindikov said Usabekov reportedly placed one of the bombs in a dumpster near the Atyrau Oblast's government building and detonated it.

Sultanghaliev was supposed to plant the second bomb next to the prosecutor's office, but set it off by accident and died in the blast.

Suindikov told journalists that the three detained suspects have confessed to their involvement in the bombings.

Jund Al-Khilafah claimed credit for the blasts in a statement on jihadist forums immediately after they took place.

The Islamist group was unknown until it appeared in a video posted on YouTube earlier in October. In it, the group demanded, in Russian, that Kazakhstan repeal a new law which bans daily Islamic prayers on the premises of government agencies.

In the video, one of the five masked fighters holding Kalashnikovs and a grenade launcher warned Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev and the country's authorities they will take "appropriate measures" unless the law is repealed.

Read more in Kazakh here

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