Kazakhstan's law-enforcers had a busy summer: it began with the country’s first ever suicide bombing in May, and continued with sporadic deadly clashes between security forces and armed suspects.
Officials at first resisted linking the incidents to terrorists. But now, after months of denials, authorities are acknowledging an extremist threat, primarily in the country’s energy hub.
The latest twist in the summer-long saga occurred August 29, when law enforcement officials announced they had foiled a plot to carry out terrorist attacks in the Atyrau Region, an oil-rich area in western Kazakhstan. One suspect was killed during a police round-up operation. Twenty-two suspects were arrested on terrorism charges, and two more are in detention under investigation. They are suspected of having links to an unnamed terrorist organization based in Pakistan and accused of making explosive devices using information downloaded from the Internet.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.