The 2016 Aktobe shootings were a spate of shootings on civilian and military targets in Aktobe, Kazakhstan, in June 2016. On 5 June, two attacks occurred at gun stores, while a third attack was aimed at a military unit. Multiple shootouts between terrorists and police occurred over the next few days. The shootings left 7 victims dead and 37 injured. Eighteen attackers were killed and nine were arrested.[5][6]

2016 Aktobe shootings
LocationAktobe, Kazakhstan
Date5–10 June 2016
TargetTwo gun shops, military base and police
Attack type
Spree shooting, robbery, hijacking, shootout
Deaths25 (7 victims, 18 perpetrators)[1][2][3]
PerpetratorsIslamic extremists

Background edit

Terrorism and extremism are rare in Kazakhstan,[5][7] however, Aktobe was the site of Kazakhstan's first suicide bombing in 2011.[5]

Despite the fact that Kazakhstan is usually peaceful, the recent plunge in petroleum prices, Kazakhstan's main export, has threatened stability in the country, as was evidenced by a number of protests in April and May 2016.[7] Recent laws allowing foreigners to purchase land in Kazakhstan had also caused uproar.[4]

Shootings edit

Initial shootings edit

The group that committed the attacks, which numbered to at least twenty-seven people, first robbed two gun shops early on 5 June, killing a guard and clerk at one shop and killing a customer at the other. They also wounded three policemen before three of the attackers were killed.[7] The surviving attackers then hijacked a bus and rammed open a gate to a national guard base where they killed three servicemen and wounded nine before one attacker was killed.[7]

Later shootings edit

The following night after the first shootings, five more militants were killed in gun battles with police and two were arrested.[8] More police officers were reported to have been killed or injured during the firefights.[2]

Early on 10 June, five militants were killed and two policemen were wounded in more gun battles in Aktobe.[4]

Responsibility edit

The perpetrators of the shootings have been described by the police press service as "followers of radical, non-traditional religious movements", a term that usually refers to Islamic extremists in Kazakhstan.[5][7]

On 10 June, Kazakhstan's president Nursultan Nazarbayev told his Security Council the attackers were Salafists and probably included Islamic State militants who had returned to Kazakhstan from Syria.[4]

Reactions edit

Nazarbayev declared 9 June a national day of mourning. He also noted that the attacks occurred on the eve of Ramadan and claimed that they were ordered from abroad. He also suggested that the attacks were an attempt to start a "colour revolution" in Kazakhstan.[6] Nazarbayev also called for harsher criminal penalties on Kazakhs who joined militant groups, tighter security at gun shops and military installations and for stricter migration control.[4]

Some observers have seen the attacks as evidence of rising tensions between different political groups.[4] Others have stated the attack shows a weakening in president Nazarbayev's control of the country.[3]

References edit

  1. ^ "Death toll from Aktobe attack reaches 19: Kazakh police". Reuters. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b Dubnov, Arkady (8 June 2016). "Nazarbayev on the Rocks: 'Terror,' 'Coup' Claims Shake Kazakhstan". The Moscow Times. Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Islamist violence and a spate of protests have rattled Kazakhstan's ruler". The Economist. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Isachenkov, Vladimir (10 June 2016). "Kazakhstan says 5 suspected militants killed in sweep". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d "Kazakhstan: Gunmen attack gun shops and army unit in Aktobe". BBC News. 5 June 2016. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  6. ^ a b Orazgaliyeva, Malika (9 June 2016). "Kazakh President Declares June 9 as National Day of Mourning". The Astana Times. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e Nurshayeva, Raushan; Auyezov, Olzhas (5 June 2016). "Suspected militants attack Kazakh guard base, kill six". Reuters. Retrieved 5 June 2016.
  8. ^ Orazgaliyeva, Malika (6 June 2016). "Five Aktobe Attack Suspects Killed Overnight in Clashes with Antiterrorism Forces". The Astana Times. Retrieved 6 June 2016.