When a special forces unit began storming alleged terrorists holed up in a dwelling near the center of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek one recent afternoon, Ivan Zaryayev thought it was children setting off fireworks.
“I thought to myself, what on earth are they doing playing with petards at this time of day,” Zaryayev, 29, told EurasiaNet.org. “And then the children came running in and said shooting had broken out.”
Hours later, Zaryayev’s house, as well as that of a neighbor, was a smoldering ruin. The imposing adjacent rented accommodation, where the gunmen were living, is now a burned-out shell riddled with bullet holes.
Authorities in Kyrgyzstan are hailing their July 16 operation as a timely, preemptive blow against Islamic terrorism. In the ensuing days, President Almazbek Atambayev ordered the head of the State Committee for National Security to hand out awards to the troops involved.
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