Kazakh president says Aktobe attacks organised from to abroad, calls for death penalty

By bne IntelliNews June 9, 2016

The armed attacks in the western city of Aktobe on June 5 were organised from abroad, Kazakh  President Nursultan Nazarbayev said in a statement, breaking a three-day silence following the incident. 

Nazarbayev blamed the attacks on “followers of radical pseudoreligious currents”, who “received instructions from abroad”, the president said in a statement on June 8. Nazarbayev also called for the “death penalty” for those “who took up arms and killed people”. In December 2003 he imposed a moratorium on the death penalty replacing it with life in prison and reduced the number of crimes punished with the dealth penalty. Terrorism retained the death penalty as punishment.

“According to information available, the terrorist attack was organised by followers of radical pseudoreligious currents and they received instruction from abroad,” Nazarbayev said in the statement. “Those who took up arms and killed people should be handed the death penalty.”

A group of young men attacked two firearms shops in Aktobe and tried to carry out an attack on a military base to seize arms on June 5. Authorities rushed to blame the attacks on radical Islamists. As a result of the shootouts between alleged Islamic terrorists and security forces, 13 attackers were killed, four were wounded and six are being hunted by security forces. Five police officers and three servicemen were also killed in the shootouts and six servicemen were wounded. A further three civilians were killed and two were wounded.

The oil city of Aktobe, located some 100km from the Russian border, was a scene of shootouts between security services and alleged terrorists in 2011. It was the site of the country’s first suicide bombing in 2011, when a local man detonated an explosive device inside the building of the state security service.

Nazarbayev has repeatedly warned against “colour revolutions” during land protests that engulfed the country in April and May. “We all know that the so-called color revolutions use a variety of different methods and begin with contrived rallies, murder and the desire to seize power. These methods have manifested themselves in our country,” Nazarbayev said. “If we don’t preserve peace in our country, we would not be able to overcome this global [economic] crisis.”

Kazakhstan is experiencing the worst economic crisis since the late 1990s: its economy grew by just 1.2% in 2015 against 4.3% in 2014 and is expected to further slow down and even contract this year. Nazarbayev claimed credit for his policies during the boom years in the run-up to global economic crisis in 2008-2009 on the back of high oil and other commodity prices. However, as the economy started sinking in late 2014 as a result of the low oil price, Nazarbayev blamed the “global” economic crisis for the country’s economic troubles.

Nazarbayev declared a day of morning on June 9.

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