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Kazakhstan Commemorates Slain Border Guards, Ranger

A masked border guard with a canine stands at an empty vehicle checkpoint at the Korgas crossing point, the largest on the 1,500-kilometer Kazakh-Chinese border in May.
Kazakhstan has begun a national day of mourning to honor 13 slain border guards and a forest ranger whose body was found nearby.

Their bodies were found dead last week at a checkpoint that was set ablaze along the Kazakh-Chinese border.

The circumstances remain a mystery.

The bodies have been taken to Astana for DNA identification and forensic tests.

The whereabouts of a 15th border guard who was deployed at the site remain unknown.

Last week, President Nursultan Nazarbaev called the incident a terrorist act but gave no indication of who may have been responsible.

Each summer Kazakhstan sets up checkpoints along the Chinese border to prevent illegal harvesting of herbs on Kazakh territory.

While incidents are fairly common along other borders in the region, observers say violence along Kazakhstan's frontier with China are rare.

Based on reporting by KazTag and Interfax