Asia-Pacific

Two explosions hit oil city Atyrau in Kazakhstan

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Two explosions have hit the oil city of Atyrau in western Kazakhstan, killing a suspected suicide bomber.

The first bomb, which was reportedly hidden in a rubbish bin near the local government headquarters, exploded just before 09:00 local time (04:00 GMT).

Shortly after, another blast took place outside the general prosecutors's office.

Kazakhstan - considered the most stable country in the region - has seen a wave of violence in recent months.

'Died on the spot'

Regional prosecutors said no-one other than a man who is reported to have been the attacker was hurt or killed in Monday's blasts, Reuters news agency reports.

"An unidentified man used an explosive device, making him die on the spot and breaking the windows of a nearby apartment building," regional prosecutors said in a statement cited by Reuters.

The BBC's Rayhan Demytrie in Almaty says in the past few months Kazakhstan has experienced a series of extremist attacks, including two explosions in May.

In September, suspects accused of plotting terrorist attacks were arrested in Atyrau.

Last week, a previously unknown Islamist group threatened Kazakhstan with violence unless the authorities abolished a new religious law approved by President Nursultan Nazarbayev earlier this month.

The law, which the authorities say will help combat extremism, bans prayer rooms in state buildings and requires all missionaries to register with the authorities every year.

But critics warned that restrictions under the new law could backfire and fuel extremism rather than combat it, our correspondent says.

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