BISHKEK: The leader of a group of Islamist militants killed last week by Kyrgyz security forces was trained in Pakistan, according to official reports.
The ex-Soviet Central Asian state, home to a US military air base, reported two gunfights between security forces and Islamist militants last week, the first clashes with Islamists in Kyrgyzstan for three years.
The State National Security Committee said on Monday it had identified the body of the leader of three fighters killed in the southern region of Osh on Saturday.
‘The leader of the destroyed terrorist group (was) Khasan Suleimanov, born in 1977 in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, trained at the international terrorist centres in Pakistan,’ it said.
The committee said both Suleimanov’s group and five militants killed days before in the nearby town of Jalal-Abad likely had links to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).
Western security analysts say the IMU was largely wiped out during US-led operations in Afghanistan. Some have pointed to a possible rise in its activity in recent months alongside a parallel resurgence in Taliban operations.
Kyrgyzstan borders Uzbekistan but not Afghanistan.