Authorities in Kyrgyzstan appear to be laying the groundwork for a broad crackdown on perceived religious radicals, following January 4 firefights that left four law-enforcement officers and two alleged militants dead.
Top security officials in Bishkek described the incidents as a call to arms against perceived Islamic militants. “A war has been declared on all of us. … We must distinguish between good and evil. Today evil is wearing the mask of a believer, trying to intimidate us, to cause panic and division,” Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliyev was quoted as saying in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.
Kyrgyz authorities have cast the militants responsible for the January 4 shootings as “jihadis” connected to a bomb blast on November 30 at the Sports Palace and a foiled Christmas day car bomb attempt at police headquarters in Bishkek.
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Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based reporter specializing in Central Asian affairs.