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Kyrgyz troops kill 3 terror suspects in shootout

Kyrgyz troops kill 3 terror suspects in shootout

Kyrgyz security forces killed three alleged members of a terrorist organization in a shootout this weekend, authorities said Monday _ the latest in a series of clashes with militants in this poor Central Asian nation.
Soldiers battled gunmen for several hours after surrounding a house in the western Osh region late Saturday night, the State Security Ministry said in a statement.
Authorities identified the gunmen as Islamic militants and said one of those killed was their leader _ a Kyrgyz citizen who had received training at a terrorist camp in Pakistan. Another of the dead was from Khanabad, a town in neighboring Uzbekistan, the ministry said.
The ministry said they belonged to the Islamic Jihad Group, an obscure organization that Uzbek authorities have claimed is a splinter group of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.
The IJG is reported to have claimed responsibility for bombings at the U.S. and Israeli embassies in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, in 2004. Some terrorism experts doubt the group exists, however, accusing Uzbek security services of mounting the attacks as a pretext to repress government opponents.
Saturday's violence follows a gunbattle near the western city of Jalal-Abad that left five suspected members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and one security forces officer killed.
The shootouts also follow violence in the Ferghana region, a valley that spans the ex-Soviet republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and has seen regular ethnic clashes over the years.
Experts say the increase in clashes with security forces may be evidence of militants fleeing security operations in nearby Pakistan and Afghanistan. Pressure from Pakistani troops and U.S.-led coalition forces may have forced the militants to return to their home countries in Central Asia, they say.