The town of Aktobe in north – western Kazakhstan has been struck again by terrorists, as gunmen opened fire on a day camp in the city in the early morning of June 8th, reports RT.
It is speculated that the attackers belong to the so – called “Army for the Liberation of Kazakhstan”, who attacked the town on Monday. Read below for more information on Monday’s events.
Law-enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan continue to track suspects in an assault on two gun stores and a military unit on Sunday in Aktobe, a town in the north-west of Kazakhstan. As a result of the attack, 17 people died, including 11 attackers. Dozens were wounded. The authorities of the country call this event “a terrorist attack that was committed by religious extremists”. The “Army for the Liberation of Kazakhstan” – a group whose existence was priorly unknown – posted a message on the internet in which it took responsibility for the attacks. Many ongoing discussions on social media networks have been discussing other possible versions, according to which the incident in Aktobe might have been organized by Russia or staged by the authorities of the country itself.
Alarming reports of the shootings in Aktobe – a regional centre located 120 kilometers from the border with Russia’s Orenburg oblast — began to appear on the internet around 3 p.m. The information was contradictory at first: not only were two gun stores being robbed, but a passenger bus had been seized and a military unit was under attack. It later transpired that the bus was captured, but the passengers immediately released – the attackers only needed a vehicle to break open the gates of the military unit.
Despite the fact that, according to several reports from the scene, the authorities tried to restrict the work of internet service providers in Aktobe, plenty of photographs and pictures from the scene soon appeared on social media.
Heightened security measures were introduced all across Kazakhstan and extended on Monday. The gravity of what had happened was seen not only in the number of people that had been killed or wounded. For example, around 7 p.m. in the evening of the same day, there appeared messages reporting that the Deputy Minister of Defense of Kazakhstan had departed Astana for Aktobe. The military establishment denied this information, despite reports of a Ministry of Defense aircraft departing Astana and landing in Aktobe in the same time period; this data can be checked on Flightradar24’s service.
Imangali Tasmagambetov ordered that all military units be ready for assembly. This was the first attack on a military unity in the whole post – Soviet history of Kazakhstan.
The message released by the “Army for the Liberation of Kazakhstan” on Monday read thus:
“We are supporters of the democratic development of Kazakhstan, and opponents of the Nazarbaev clique – regime. Today, we gave the first blow to the bandit – dictatorship who seized our country after independence. And even if Nazarbaev’s terrorists take this particular town, and our warriors – volunteers give their lives for the freedom of our country, we will have shown our power, and we will have proved that the fight for the liberation of our country has begun!”
Various versions of what happened are actively being discussed on the internet. Social media users suggest that Russia was involved in the attacks that took place in Aktobe. They pointed out a weird message that had been posted on May 20th on the official web – page of the Government of Orenburg Oblast in Russia. It reported “urgent measures in connection with tragic events in the north-east region of the Republic of Kazakhstan”, “against the Russian people”. The authorities of Orenburg region declared this post “a hacker attack”.
In the north and north-west regions of Kazakhstan, including Aktobe, there are indeed a lot of Russian speaking people – Aktobe itself moved from the RSFSR to the established Kazakh SSR only in 1936 and received its present name instead of Aktobensk only in 1999. According to unofficial data, Russians constitute only 17% of the population of the town.
One version largely seen circulating on the Kazakh internet attributed the attack to Kazakh authorities, in order to justify heightened security measures after the large, recent protests against land reform.
The official version released by the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan (NSC) declared that the “Army for the Liberation of Kazakhstan” had “attempted a coup d’état in the country”, and had been organized by businessman Tokhtar Tuleshov who had been arrested in late January on charges of drug trafficking. However, in that message there was no word about the connection of that story with what had transpired in Aktobe.