Central Asia’s mountainous borderlands have seen their third bizarre mass murder this summer, this time in Kyrgyzstan.
Police say a border guard conscript in Kyrgyzstan’s eastern Issyk-Kul Province killed four contract border guards and a civilian before fleeing in a stolen car on August 20. Early the following morning security forces killed the suspect, identified as 19-year-old Balbai Kulbarak uulu, in a mountain gorge near the Kazakh frontier, Reuters reported.
The state border service, part of the State Committee on National Security (the GKNB, which is often still called the KGB), said Kulbarak uulu was killed after firing at authorities.
Kulbarak uulu had been hostile to his colleagues the day before the killings, said the Military Prosecutor’s office. The five dead at the Echkili-Tash outpost included the post commander and the wife of one serviceman. Three guards managed to escape.
Mass murders are uncommon in Central Asia, at least prior to this summer.
This week’s events in Kyrgyzstan eerily evoke a May massacre in Kazakhstan. On May 31, at a Kazakh border post near China, 14 border guards were found dead; all had been shot and their bodies burned. After several days, authorities tracked down the post’s lone survivor, who eventually confessed. He has since withdrawn his testimony and said he was pressured into taking responsibility for the crime. Kazakh officials said at the time that the suspect might have snapped due to hazing, the ritual bullying of soldiers that is common in the armed forces of many formerly Soviet countries.
Then, last week, in a Kazakh national park and close to the mountainous Kyrgyz border, someone stabbed 11 people to death, including a park ranger. Strangely, the murderer(s) didn’t bother to touch a safe at the crime scene containing $12,000.