ALMATY (Reuters) - Kazakhstan's special forces on Friday killed four members of a criminal group accused of attacks on police in the main oil-producing Atyrau region, prosecutors said.
The mainly Muslim nation of 17 million, Central Asia's largest economy, has until recently been proud of its stability.
But bomb blasts and fierce skirmishes between militants and security forces have become an almost weekly phenomenon in the oil-rich nation this year.
Special forces stormed a house in a suburb of regional capital Atyrau early on Friday after the four suspects refused to surrender their weapons and opened fire on troops, the prosecutor-general's office said.
"As a result of the anti-terrorist operation, all four persons who put up armed resistance were destroyed," the office said on its website, adding that petrol bombs and components of improvised explosive devices had been found at the scene.
Five militants were killed in the town of Kulsary in the same region on September 12 after they barricaded themselves into a house and refused to surrender. Prosecutors said the gunmen were part of a group planning an attack on police officers.
Days later, two policemen were wounded in two separate militant attacks in Atyrau city.
(Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Pravin Char)