Second Mysterious Blast Rocks Kazakhstan
A car has blown up in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, near a facility run by the security services, Interfax news agency reported. The agency said a BMW had exploded at 3:30 a.m. on May 24 outside a remand center belonging to the National Security Committee (KNB).The Interior Ministry confirmed the blast – the second outside KNB offices in a week – and said in a statement quoted by the Kazakhstan Today news agency that two men “of European appearance” had died, the driver and a passenger. While some media outlets concluded it had been a suicide bombing, officials moved quickly to rule out any link with terrorism, though they acknowledged that an explosive device had detonated in the car.“The aforementioned circumstances attest to the absence of signs of a terrorist act,” the Interior Ministry statement said, while KNB spokesman Kenzhebulat Beknazarov described the explosion in remarks quoted by CA-news as “a usual incident that could have taken place in any district.”The men in the car “have no involvement in any religious or extremist organizations,” Interior Minister Kalmukhambet Kasymov said in comments carried by state news agency Kazinform. They were identified as two inhabitants of the northern town of Ekibastuz – Dmitriy Kelpler, originally from Kyrgyzstan, and Ivan Cheremukhin, who was described as having a criminal record for theft and fraud.The blast came exactly a week after a bomber blew himself up at the security service HQ in Kazakhstan’s western oil city of Aktobe in an attack officials blamed on the mafia.It also came two days after the Taliban warned Kazakhstan to reconsider its plan to send troops to Afghanistan, in a statement quoted by Reuters.Kazakhstan is to send four military experts to Afghanistan – two military analysts, one epidemiologist and one logistics expert, Foreign Ministry spokesman Askar Abdrakhmanov clarified on May 23, describing the move as Kazakhstan’s contribution to “assuring security and restoring a peaceful life in that country.”As Central Asia’s most stable and prosperous state, Kazakhstan has enjoyed a largely peaceful life to date, but these odd explosions are certainly rocking the boat.