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Kazakh Interior Ministry Denies Link Between Mass-Murder Cases


IIe-Alatau National Park (file photo)
IIe-Alatau National Park (file photo)
Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry has denied any link between two mass murder cases in the southeastern Almaty region.

Ministry spokesman Nurdilda Oraz told journalists that there is no connection between this week's mass murder in Ile-Alatau National Park and the mass killing of border guards in a remote outpost in May.

Police found 11 bodies with stab wounds, including five burned bodies, in and near the premises used by local forest rangers in the Ile-Alatau National Park, south of Kazakhstan's largest city, Almaty, this week.

Kazakhstan's Interior Minister Qalmukhanbet Qasymov told journalists on August 14 that one of the forest rangers' premises was burned down, while another one was thoroughly examined and nothing seemed to be stolen from it. Money and rifles were found intact.

Oraz declined to give any details on possible leads being followed, saying that investigations are under way.

Oraz said police are currently looking for a missing son of the senior forest ranger, Panayot Zakharopulo, whose whereabouts is unknown and who might have been at the crime scene when the murders took place.

Zakharopulo himself and some of his relatives have been identified as being among the slain victims.

The incident in the national park took place less than two months after a forest ranger and 14 border guards were killed and 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 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 and Interfax
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