With Kyrgyzstan's July 23 presidential election fast approaching, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's administration is trying to court the support of Muslims, while cracking down on suspected members of radical Islamic groups.
Law enforcement agencies have tightened security in Kyrgyzstan's southern provinces since a May incident across the border in Khanabad, Uzbekistan. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Tashkent claimed the attack was planned and carried out from Kyrgyz soil. Kyrgyz authorities have rejected that allegation.
Two shootouts in Kyrgyzstan over the past week have heightened the level of the Bakiyev administration's concern. Authorities claim a clash in Jalalabad on June 23, in which five alleged militant members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) died, targeted a group of foreign-based suicide bombers. Then, on June 27, officials said members of the State National Security Committee's elite Alfa unit killed another three IMU militants in a safe house near Osh.
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Editors Note: Alisher Khamidov is a researcher based in South Kyrgyzstan