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Bishkek on Terror Alert

By News Briefing Central Asia
Kyrgyzstan’s secret services are warning of a possible terrorist attack in Bishkek, though some NBCentralAsia observers suggest that the authorities may simply be looking for an excuse to crack down on government opponents.

The secret services say the capital may be attacked by extremist groups in March and that they are currently working on measures to prevent it, according to March 5 reports from Kyrgyz media outlets.

Some analysts believe the threat is real enough. Political scientist Orozbek Moldaliev is among them, although he identifies the risk period as being later in the year – during a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, SCO, scheduled to take place for Bishkek in August.

“It cannot be ruled out that terror groups linked to the Taleban and al-Qaeda will try to carry out terrorist attacks in Bishkek during the summit. The attacks could be directed at some presidents of SCO member states,” said Moldaliev.

However, other NBCentralAsia observers are less convinced.

“The authorities are now interested in taking tougher measures against possible action by the opposition and are using arguments like the threat of terrorist attacks [to justify it],” said Tamerlan Ibraimov, director of the Centre for Political and Legal Studies.

Some commentators warn that if there is a risk of violence, it is posed by warring political groups at home more than terrorist organisations.

Muratbek Imanaliev, head of the Institute for Public Policy, said, “One needs to bear in mind that both the authorities and the opposition have an interest in creating instability for their own ends. This shows how immature the political system, statehood, and the entire opposition are.”

(News Briefing Central Asia draws comment and analysis from a broad range of political observers across the region.)