3 Kirgiz guards killed 9 Islamists break out of jail

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BISHKEK (Kyrgyzstan): Three prison guards were killed and one was seriously injured after nine prisoners held for extremism and terrorism escaped from a jail near the Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek on Monday, the interior ministry said. 

The three were killed attempting to apprehend the group after it broke out of the jail in Chui province in the early hours, it said. 

Five were captured by police and four were still at large, including two serving life sentences and two who were being held under arrest pending trial, it said. 

“All of them have been prosecuted for religious extremism and terrorism,” the Kyrgyz authorities said in a statement. 

The escapees have been identified by police as active supporters of the outlawed Jaishul Mahdi (Army of the Righteous Ruler) religious group. 

Kyrgyzstan’s border service said Monday that it had boosted security at the border with Kazakhstan after the jail break. 

Kyrgyzstan, a fragile ex-Soviet republic in Central Aisa, saw over 500 people die in political violence in 2010. 

In recent years, it has been sounding the alarm over religious extremism. 

It claimed to have foiled a plot by the Islamic State group to destabilise the country after six alleged militants were killed in clashes with government forces in July. 

Last week a local court sentenced a popular imam from an ethnic minority group to five years’ jail on extremism charges. 

The prosecution said imam Rashot Kamalov’s sermons contained passages showing support for IS, who are believed to have recruited hundreds of Kyrgyz citizens to fight in the Middle East. 

A number of observers of the trial including local civil society leaders say it was marred by irregularities and accuse the government of trying to silence a prominent critic.

 

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