Islamist Militant Kills 7 in Kazakhstan

Posted November 12th, 2011 at 11:30 am (UTC-5)
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An Islamist militant killed seven people, including five law enforcement officers, before blowing himself up during a rampage Saturday in a southern Kazakh city.

Authorities say the violence began Saturday morning in the city of Taraz when the militant opened fired on security forces trailing him. He then hijacked a car and raided a weapons store, killing two civilians and two police officers pursuing him. The assailant later blew himself up when apprehended, killing a police officer who was trying to disarm him.

Kazakhstan, Central Asia's largest and most successful economy, had until this year been fairly untouched by Islamist violence witnessed elsewhere in the region. But the mainly Muslim nation of 17 million has seen an increase this year in small-scale bombings and shootouts blamed on Islamist extremists.

The country passed a new law this month banning religious gatherings in state institutions in an effort to stamp out religious extremism. Critics say the measure will only increase the militancy of such groups.