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Kyrgyz Officials Uncover Alleged Hizb Ut-Tahrir Cell

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz officials say a cell from the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamic group has been uncovered in the southern Jalal-Abad region.

The Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security (UKMK) said in a statement on March 23 that several residents of the Suzak district were detained on suspicion of membership in the group.

The UKMK statement said the suspects have had links with extremist organizations operating abroad.

The exact number of suspects and their identities was not disclosed.

Reports of arrests of alleged members of Hizb ut-Tahrir and other banned Islamic groups have increased in recent months in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz authorities say Hizb ut-Tahrir is part of a strategy by Al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants to radicalize young people and recruit them to fight in Syria and Iraq.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Central Asia and Russia, says it is peaceful.