Kyrgyzstan troops in deadly gunfight near China border


Kyrgyzstan officials say troops have killed 11 members of an unidentified criminal group near the Chinese border.

The acting head of the border service told the BBC that the armed men had first killed the head of the hunting department in the area.

Raimberdi Duishenbiev said the group also used explosives and torched some buildings in the north-eastern Issykul region.

He said they were killed after refusing to give themselves up.

Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia, became independent in 1991 following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"According to our information a border guard in the Pikretik area called the military base and reported the sighting of 10-12 unknown people," Mr Duishenbiev said.

"When the military reached the area it was established that there were 11 of them. The unknown group had knifed the head of the hunting department to death."

Mr Duishenbiev said shooting broke out and two members of the group were killed.

"The group hid in buildings. Soon 10 border guards... arrived and ordered the remaining nine members of the group to surrender. But they responded with shooting and therefore all of them were eliminated."

Mr Duishenbiev said preliminary investigations suggested the armed suspects may have been ethnic Uighurs from neighbouring China. However, the claim cannot be independently verified.

Gulnara Kasmambetova of BBC Kyrgyz says other reports have speculated that the group might have been poachers or connected to the drugs trade.

Kyrgyzstan lies on a trafficking route for narcotics from Afghanistan.

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