Kazakh authorities say lone ‘Islamist’ gunman behind deadly Almaty shootings

ALMATY (TCA) — Kazakh authorities say they believe they have captured the lone gunman in multiple attacks that President Nursultan Nazarbayev described as a “terrorist act,” which targeted police and left seven people dead and eight others injured in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, on July 18, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

The head of the country’s National Security Committee identified the suspect as a 26-year-old man who adopted radical Islam during his incarceration on robbery and weapons-possession charges.

President Nazarbayev on July 18 ordered beefed-up security at public gathering places, but authorities declared the counterterrorism operation over and lowered the threat level from “red” to “yellow”.

National Security Committee head Vladimir Zhumakanov was shown in an official video blaming Ruslan Kulikbaev for the July 18 attacks, which killed three officers and four civilians and wounded at least eight other people in Almaty.

He said Kulikbaev “became close to Salafists” while in jail, a reference to a banned hard-line strain of Islam.

Authorities had initially said they rounded up two suspects, but later described the other man as a motorist forced to drive the suspect between crime scenes.

The attacks reportedly targeted a police station and a facility of the Kazakh Committee for National Security.
Early reports said the gunman lived in the Almaty region but was from Kazakhstan’s south-central Kyzylorda Province.

Authorities tied him to the slaying of a local woman over the weekend.

It is the second deadly attack in two months in Kazakhstan, following a still largely unexplained rampage by dozens of young men in the northwestern city of Aktobe that left at least 28 people dead. Officials blamed Isamists for that attack.

Sergey Kwan