Kazakhstan says averts attacks linked to exiled banker
ASTANA - Agence France-Presse
Reuters photoKazakhstan on Wednesday said it had thwarted acts of "terrorism" in its biggest city Almaty linked to an exiled banker who is a leading foe of President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The general prosecutors said in a statement that the security services averted the attacks "at the preparatory stage" that were masterminded by a Kazakh citizen named Alexander Pavlov.
It said that Pavlov has since 2005 headed the "personal security" of the exiled banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, an opponent of Nazarbayev who is wanted by Kazakhstan on charges of fraud and has fled to Britain.
It said that Pavlov, who has also been hiding in exile since 2009, "carries out confidential missions" on behalf of Ablyazov.
Ablyazov, who once headed an opposition party in Kazakhstan, until 2009 was chairman of the BTA Bank which enjoyed rapid growth but then hit problems when the economic crisis struck. The state intervened and Ablyazov fled to London.
The prosecutors said that the ringleaders of the plot planned on March 24 to set off a series of explosions in parks in Almaty and administrative buildings in the city.
"The main aim of the acts of terror was to scare the population and create an atmosphere of chaos and panic, destabilising the social-political situation in the country," the prosecutors said.
The statement did not give details on how the attacks were thwarted.
Apparently accusing Ablyazov and his allies of links to Islamist militants who have been behind a series of attacks in Kazakhstan in the last year, it said they had "contacts with representatives of radical religious groups".
This was aimed at carrying out "joint acts of terror" as well as inciting inter-communal conflict in the majority Muslim but secular Central Asian state.
While the main protagonists are living in exile "a number of people have been detained and are making confessions," the statement added.