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Kazakh Police Summon Reporters Who Covered Deadly Ammo Depot Explosions


Journalists close to the site of where an explosion occurred in Kazakhstan's Baizak district on August 27.

TARAZ, Kazakhstan -- Police in Kazakhstan’s southern Zhambyl region have summoned two journalists as part of a probe into what they called the "distribution of false information" over deadly ammunition explosions last month that led to the resignation of Defense Minister Nurlan Ermekbaev.

Regional police took the two journalists -- Islambek Dastan of Turaninfo.kz and Daniyar Alimkul -- in for questioning on September 16. Dastan was summoned as witness, while Alimkul's status is a witness with the right to defend himself.

Dastan told RFE/RL after the questioning that he answered the investigators' questions regarding his live broadcast on Facebook covering the explosions and fire at the ammunition warehouse on August 26 that killed at least 17 people. One person remains missing in the accident.

The blasts also injured 98 people -- about half of them employees of the Emergency Situations Ministry.

"The explosions took place, right? I do not know how one can falsify anything by just covering the blasts," Dastan said.

Alimkul refused to comment on the questioning, saying that he signed papers prohibiting him from disclosing the investigation’s proceedings. His lawyer, Aliya Arzymbetova, said that there are no suspects in the case at this point.

The explosions caused a public outcry and criticism of the government as many in the Central Asian nation recalled similar explosions at an ammunition warehouse near the town of Arys in the nearby Turkistan region in 2019 that killed four people and injured dozens of others.

Some 85 percent of Arys's buildings, mainly private houses, were damaged by heavy smoke, shock waves, and flying debris from the explosions.

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