Kazakh forces kill five gunmen after siege in oil region

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 12, 2012 9:28 AM
Kazakh forces kill five gunmen after siege in oil region

ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakhstan's special forces on Wednesday laid siege to a house and killed five members of a group planning attacks on police in the country's main oil-producing Atyrau region, prosecutors said.

The militants barricaded themselves in the house in the town of Kulsary in western Kazakhstan before opening fire on the servicemen and detonating several bombs, the prosecutor-general's office said.

One serviceman was wounded but no civilians were hurt, the office said in a statement on its website. A sixth militant was seriously wounded, it said.

Kulsary is near the giant Tengiz oilfield developed by the Chevron-led Tengizchevroil joint venture, the country's largest oil producer and a major contributor to the state budget.

Kazakhstan, Central Asia's largest economy and its most prosperous nation, has until recently been proud of its stability.

But bomb blasts and skirmishes between militants and security forces in various parts of the sprawling country over the past year have undermined the tranquil image cultivated by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has run the mainly Muslim nation of 17 million for more than two decades.

On August 17, police killed nine suspected militants in a shootout near Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty during a raid on an armed group linked to a house explosion that killed eight people a month ago.

Investigators tracked down the militants in Kulsary after a blast a week ago at a house in the regional capital Atyrau killed a young man suspected of belonging to the same group, prosecutors said. Three home-made bombs were found at the site of the accidental explosion, they said.

"It was established that he had been planning violent acts against officers of security services," prosecutors said. Four other people suspected of being part of the same group were arrested and charged with preparing a terrorist act, they said.

(Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Pravin Char)