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Kyrgyzstan Claims Neutralized IS Members Planned Attacks

Destroyed buildings are seen in Bishkek after clashes with alleged militants from Islamic State on July 16.
Destroyed buildings are seen in Bishkek after clashes with alleged militants from Islamic State on July 16.

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz authorities say that alleged militants killed and detained in Bishkek on July 16 were members of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group receiving support from Syria.

A spokesman for Kyrgyzstan's State Committee for National Security, Rakhat Sulaimanov, told RFE/RL on July 17 that the militants were planning several terrorist attacks, including one against the Russian military base at Kant, in Kyrgyzstan's north, and a terrorist attack during mass Eid al-Fitr prayers in Bishkek.

Sulaimanov added that six IS members had been killed in two separate operations in Bishkek on July 16 and seven more arrested.

"Investigations revealed that the group had received finances from Syria to buy chemical components for explosives," Sulaimanov said. "Significant amounts of cash, seven assault rifles, five pistols, and a large number of grenades were found in the house where the militants were rounded up."

Sulaimanov said the leader of the group was a Kazakh citizen, Zhanbolat Amirov, who was among those killed.

Amirov and another Kazakh citizen, Albert Abkhin, were sentenced in Kyrgyzstan to three and four years in jail, respectively, for forgery and illegal border crossing several months ago.

Kyrgyz officials reported earlier that the two had managed to break out of prison in April. On July 1, when Kyrgyz police located them in Bishkek and tried to rearrest them, Abkhin blew himself up, while Amirov managed to escape.

On July 17, troops from the Alpha special-police brigade stormed a private home in Bishkek's southern district before the suspects opened fire.

Four officers were wounded in the operation.

Two more members of the group were killed in the suburbs of Bishkek later the same evening, Kyrgyz officials said.

Kyrgyz officials have expressed concern over an increasing number of Kyrgyz nationals joining Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq.

Kyrgyz authorities have recently arrested alleged IS recruiters, and alleged members of banned Islamic groups have been arrested in recent years.

Kyrgyz police have beefed up security ahead of July 17, the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

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