Kazakhstan: Suicide Bombing Hits Provincial Office of Nation's Security Service

Yesterday, 17 May, 2011, a suicide bomber exploded himself at the entrance to the regional office of the National Security Committee in Aktobe, a provincial center in Western Kazakhstan. Four people were injured in the blast.

This is the first case of suicide bombing in Kazakhstan, a country known for its inter-ethnic tolerance and for boasting its stability in the uneasy region of Central Asia. Extremists have allegedly been trying to penetrate the country, and occasionally the Kazakh authorities report on arrests of criminal groups that are close to religious extremist groups, like Hizb-ut-Takhrir, and non-traditional Islam groupings.

Megakhuimyak blames [ru] the authorities for employing the “police socialism” model in politics, i.e. the tactics of distracting the society's attention from political fight via institutions, controlled by the state:

[The government] was warned many times not to play with this, but they never listened, and now they get the first suicide bomber […] Isn't that cool. Why didn't the authorities start checking the imams [Islamic leaders] 10 years ago and stop flirting with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia? Now we don't have enough balls to run a full-scale counter-terror [campaign]

Epolet reminds [ru] about the extremism background of the Aktobe province:

Aktobe Court sentenced six locals to 12-17 years in jail for terrorism on September 24, 2009. They were planning to attack foreign oil investors.

Promodj also recollects [ru] that:

recently they told in the news about terrorist camps in West Kazakhstan. There was a joint operation by the Russian and Kazakh special services […] If this is a terrorist act, the authorities would hardly admit it, while terrorists have demonstrated that they can stage a blast near the National Security Committee's office, which would obviously rise the citizens’ anxiety.

“Aktobe is horrified. Apparently, the officer on duty did not let the bomber to enter the building and the blast burst at the entrance. The city is agitated, police cordons everywhere”, danik-akpan reports [ru]from Aktobe.

Gulim Amirkhanova from the citizen media website newreporter.kz writes [ru]:

The blast at 10 a.m. was made by suicide bomber Rakhimzhan Makhatov, 25, citizen of Kazakhstan. He has died […] Internet search returns one link on him, a report on Aktobe music school and about Makhatov as a gifted student: “in 2001 he became a laureate of ‘Zhas Kanat’ [musical competition]”

The discussion in Twitter with hashtags #aktobe and #vzryvkz is pretty sluggish. Facebook users are more active, drawing parallels with the recent explosion in Minsk [Belarus] and reminding that West Kazakhstan has been known for growing radicalism tendencies.

Poops is skeptical [ru]:

It's strange that he attacked National Security Committee… Usually, the goal of terrorists is to intimidate the civilian population by blowing up public transportation, squares and other public areas. Blasts in the buildings of state bodies are commonly perceived as revenge to the power for some unfair or illegal actions.

A spokesman for the General Prosecutor's office told [ru] at the news conference that “Makhatov, suspected of committing several offenses as part of organized criminal group, blew himself up with the purpose to evade the liability”.

The OSCE Chair, Audronius Ažubalis, condemned a suicide bomb attack, calling it a “terrorist act”.

Thumbnail image of Kazakhstan flag by Flickr user SonnyandSandy (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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