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Kyrgyzstan News Alert

Kyrgyzstan: Increased terror threat during holiday season

Terror threat increases in Kyrgyzstan during the holiday season; remain vigilant

24 Dec 07:00 AM UTC
TIMEFRAME expected from 12/22/2017, 12:00 AM until 1/1/2018, 11:59 PM (Asia/Bishkek). COUNTRY/REGION Kyrgyzstan

Event

The terrorist threat is increased throughout Kyrgyzstan during the current holiday season. On December 17, the US Embassy in Bishkek issued a security reminder, warning that terror attacks may strike the country in the coming weeks, particularly "soft targets" such as parks, theaters, or other public sites. The recent US announcement on Jerusalem has also heightened anti-American sentiment throughout Central Asia, potentially further elevating the terror threat in Kyrgyzstan in the coming weeks.

Context

Kyrgyz authorities believe that over 500 citizens from the country have left to join the transnational terrorist group the Islamic State (IS); nearly 5000 fighters from Central Asia are estimated to have traveled to Iraq and Syria to fight for IS. With IS losing territory steadily in both Iraq and Syria, it is possible that more Kyrgyz foreign fighters will attempt to return home, potentially to carry out terrorist attacks.

On December 6, President Trump announced that the US officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a departure from the previous US and international position of neutrality on the status of the city claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians; no country has an embassy in Jerusalem. Many world leaders had strongly advised the US administration against the move, claiming it would render impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state and would inflame tensions across the Muslim world.

Advice

Individuals in Kyrgyzstan are advised to exercise vigilance and remain observant of their surroundings at all times. Follow all instructions issued by local authorities and avoid crowded places if possible. A surge in anti-American and anti-Western sentiment is likely in some areas; all travelers, and Westerners in particular, are advised to maintain a low profile (do not discuss sensitive topics, do not stop to take photographs of demonstrations, etc.) and avoid unnecessary movements in the event of unrest.

On a separate note, ethnic, political, and socio-economic tensions continue to exist in the Kyrgyz Republic, especially in the south. Supporters of terrorist groups and anti-Western, anti-Semitic extremist organizations have expressed anti-US sentiments and may attempt to target US or Western interests in the region, including in the Kyrgyz Republic.​

 

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