Kyrgyz special forces yesterday launched another raid to capture the former president, an official said, a day after an attempt to storm his compound left one officer dead and a police chief in a critical condition.
Kyrgyzstan is on the brink of full-blown political crisis amid a standoff between former Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev and his protege-turned-foe, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov.
The confrontation escalated on Wednesday, when the security service announced an operation to seize Atambayev from his compound outside Bishkek.
Now “a second raid has just begun,” Kyrgyz Legislator Irina Karamushkina, an ally of Atambayev’s in contact with his compound, said by telephone.
About 1,000 police and special forces officers were taking part, while the same number of Atambayev’s supporters were defending the residence, she said.
Atambayev has ignored police summons for questioning on corruption charges that his supporters say are politically motivated.
He announced a rally for later yesterday in the same area of the capital where his supporters gathered at the start of a popular uprising in 2010.
Atambayev also pledged to release special forces officers held by his supporters following a night of clashes at his residence.
A correspondent saw police and hundreds of Atambayev supporters hurl stones at each other late on Wednesday in Koi-Tash, where Internet and mobile networks appeared to have been cut.
The Kyrgyz Ministry of Health said that a special forces officer had died from a gunshot wound and the head of the Chui Province police department was in critical condition after being concussed during the clashes.
The ministry said that 52 people had been injured, about half of whom were law enforcement officers.
Jeenbekov convened a meeting of its Security Council early yesterday, after talks with Atambayev’s representatives broke down.
The legislature in June stripped Atambayev of his immunity as a former president and the state prosecutor brought corruption charges against him.
The standoff has drawn in Russia, where hundreds of thousands of Kyrgyz work as laborers.
Last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Jeenbekov and Atambayev in Moscow in a bid to defuse the confrontation.
Erica Marat, an associate professor at the National Defense University in Washington, said that the pair’s confrontation is symptomatic of Kyrgyzstan’s failure to reform its security institutions and courts.
“Jeenbekov must now decide whether to escalate violent confrontation with Atambayev’s supporters or negotiate,” Marat said.
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