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Did Terrorists Attack Kazakhstan?
13 June, 2016
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What You Need To Know:

✓ In the Western Kazakh city of Aktobe, a group of armed men robbed a weapons store, hijacked a bus and attacked a military base, killing 7 civilians along the way, leading to the eventual death of 18 perpetrators;

✓ “The nature of the attack and the way in which the attack was conducted doesn’t really fit with the profile of a group of externally supported and trained Islamist militants;”

✓ Some experts said that economic reasons were more likely for the attack, given that Aktobe has been hit particularly hard by the drop in oil prices and that Kazakhstan is currently in a recession;

✓ “The danger is that this government loses all credibility and loses the ability to dictate the narrative like it really has for the last 20 years.”

In the Western Kazakh city of Aktobe, a group of armed men robbed a weapons store, hijacked a bus and attacked a military base, killing 7 civilians along the way, leading to the eventual death of 18 perpetrators. While the Kazakh government claims that the attack was carried out by pseudo-religious groups, Nate Schenkkan of Freedom House says there is not enough information yet to make such claims. “The nature of the attack and the way in which the attack was conducted doesn’t really fit with the profile of a group of externally supported and trained Islamist militants,” he says.

Some experts said that economic reasons were more likely for the attack, given that Aktobe has been hit particularly hard by the drop in oil prices and that Kazakhstan is currently in a recession. This has caused demonstration from the public, with the Government claiming that “the protests are essentially the same thing as these terrorist attacks.”

President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his Government keep flubbing their lines about what happened, says Schenkkan, and the people of Kazakhstan know that the explanations don’t make sense. “The danger is that this government loses all credibility and loses the ability to dictate the narrative like it really has for the last 20 years,” which is a sign of future instability to come.

Hromadske’s Josh Kovensky spoke to Nate Schenkkan, a project director at Freedom House via Skype in June 2016.