Kyrgyzstan ex-president arrested after raids

Kyrgyzstan’s security forces have arrested former President Almazbek Atambayev after a botched raid on his property overnight resulted in the death of one officer.

Mr Atambayev reportedly surrendered and was taken to the capital, Bishkek.

It followed a standoff in which his supporters took six officers captive.

Current President Sooronbai Jeenbekov said Mr Atambayev, who was initially wanted for questioning as a witness, had committed a “grave crime”.

The former leader had repeatedly refused police summonses to testify as a witness about alleged corruption and abuse of office.

Special forces officers attempted to raid his house late on Wednesday night, but his supporters took up arms in his defence. The six soldiers they captured were later released.

Shortly afterwards, gunfire and stun grenades were reported at the home in a second raid on the property, on the outskirts of the capital.

Mr Jeenbekov – Mr Atambayev’s former ally and successor – said the ex-president had “grossly flouted” the law by “putting up severe armed resistance” to police.

“Yesterday we were summoning him as a witness, now we will summon him over a grave crime,” he told a special parliamentary session yesterday.

A police statement said Mr Atambayev – who ruled Kyrgyzstan from 2011 to 2017 – “will be delivered to the relevant authorities for further investigative measures”.

Special forces used an armoured vehicle to break through the gates of the compound in Koi Tash village outside the capital, and soldiers blocked roads leading to Mr Atambayev’s residence, local media reported.

Reports from local journalists at the scene said Mr Atambayev surrendered to officers. Two aides were thought to be with him.

Local news site reports he was flown by helicopter to avoid supporters who were blocking the roads.

Politician Irina Karamushkina, an ally of Mr Atambayev’s, told AFP that his supporters were “ready to defend the former president to the end”.

The former president had planned a rally yesterday, but cancelled it and called his supporters back to defend his residence.

The raid began late on Wednesday. According to Kyrgyzstan’s national security committee (GKNB), special forces armed “only with rubber bullets” were undertaking a “special operation to detain” the former president.

As the troops moved in, the GKNB said, Mr Atambayev’s supporters fired back with live ammunition.  –BBC

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