BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz authorities are investigating the brutal stabbing death of a 20-year-old woman by a man who had abducted her hours earlier near Bishkek as part of a longstanding but illegal Kyrgyz practice known as "bride kidnapping."
The father of the woman, identified as Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy, told RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service that the attacker had allegedly carved her initials and that of a different man she had originally planned to marry into the woman’s body.
Local prosecutors said they had opened a criminal probe into Turdaaly Kyzy's death, which occurred at a local police precinct where she and her abductor had been taken after being detained by law enforcement.
The 29-year-old alleged attacker, who has not been identified, was hospitalized after stabbing himself, officials said.
Relatives said Turdaaly Kyzy, a graduate of a medical school in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, had been planning to marry a Kyrgyz man identified only by his first initial "N." A ceremony was set for August.
In late April, the attacker, who worked as a minibus-taxi driver in Bishkek and drove near her house, abducted Turdaaly Kyzy, as part of a historical practice in which Kyrgyz men kidnap women and force them to marry them.
But, according to Turdaaly Kyzy’s father, Turdaaly Kojonaliev, the family was able to locate her and prevent the forced marriage from occurring.
The incident frightened Turdaaly Kyzy, another relative said, and she moved in temporarily with her aunt in another part of the district. But she returned to her home village of Sosnovka, about 20 miles west of Bishkek, on May 27 to help her mother, as part of the celebrations for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
That evening, Kojonaliev told RFE/RL, the man abducted Turdaaly Kyzy a second time, as she was on her way to a store in Sosnovka. Her father tried to follow them in his car, and later contacted police to report the kidnapping.
Several hours later, Kojonaliev spoke to his daughter by phone from the police precinct where she had been detained along with her abductor. She said she was unhurt.
When her father arrived at the police precinct, officials said that Turdaaly Kyzy and her abductor had been allowed by investigators to be alone in a room together, for unknown reasons.
Nazira Imangazieva, a spokeswoman for district police, said officers broke into the room after hearing sounds of a fight.
Kojonaliev said the attacker had not only stabbed Turdaala but carved into her body her initials and that of her fiancé.
“When I examined the body of my daughter, I saw that [the initials] N and B and a cross were cut into it with a knife,” he told RFE/RL.
The district prosecutor, Mambetaly Turdumamatov, suggested that police were to blame for her death.
"The police officers showed negligence and did not fulfill their assigned duties," he said. "How did the suspect bring the knife to the police station? Where did the knife come from?:
A relative of the attacker also suggested that police were partially to blame.
"He even made inscriptions on her body. First he stabbed her three times, and then made inscriptions. Why didn't the police officers do anything before? If they were close, they would come running to the girl's screams," the man, who asked not to be identified, told RFE/RL.
Bride kidnapping, which is known to happen in parts of Central Asia, the Caucasus and other places, has been illegal for years in Kyrgyzstan, but prosecutions have been rare.
In 2012, Kyrgyz lawmakers strengthened the punishment, raising the maximum prison term from 3 to 10 years.
Women and human rights defenders have long complained that police, prosecutors ignore such complaints, or often try to force the two sides to resolve the matter peacefully between themselves.
According to some unconfirmed reports, police may have sought to do that with Turdaaly Kyzy and her abductor.
Taalaybek Alybayev, a member of a public board with oversight of the national Interior Ministry, blamed indifference on the part of police investigators.
"This is not negligence, but a crime," Alybayev said. "Police officers should have had control of everything. Where did the knife come from? This is evidence of the lack of professionalism of police officers who didn’t do their duties properly."