Death toll in Almaty rises to six

By bne IntelliNews July 21, 2016

The death toll in the bloody armed attack in Almaty has risen from five to six, according to AFP, as interrogations are revealing further details about the disturbed attacker. A former convict, the 27-year-old harboured hatred towards several categories of public servants, and had considered attacking judges before he settled on an attack on police officers, Internal Affairs Minister Kalmukhanbet Kasymov said. President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared the incident a terrorist attack, although some wonder if it was just a one-off incident perpetrated by a disturbed individual.

Terrorism is on the rise in Kazakhstan, where a court sentenced 12 men to jail terms earlier this month for wanting to join the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and a planned terrorist attack was narrowly thwarted earlier in July. The shootings took place little more than a month after the mainly Muslim central Asian country suffered its deadliest attack, in which more than 20 people were killed when Islamist militants attacked a gun shop and a military base in western city of Aktobe. At least 200 other Kazakhs are fighting alongside terrorist groups in Syria, according to some estimates.

On July 19, a Kazakh court in the northern city of Petropavlosvsk sentenced yet another suspect for joining IS in Syria in order to fight against government forces. Prosecutors say that the 47-year-old travelled to Turkey in 2012 and illegally crossed the border into Syria, where he joined the militants, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports. The suspect has denied the accusations and said he would appeal the sentence. 

Meanwhile, Kazakh authorities are mulling stronger measures to prevent terrorist attacks from taking place. According to the head of security services Vladimir Zhumakanov, Astana is looking to increase prison sentences for such offences and tighten control of the circulation of firearms. Kasymov suggested that citizenship be stripped away from people who are found guilty of terrorism.

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