Kyrgyz special forces stormed the compound of former president Almazbek Atambayev Wednesday and clashed with his supporters, his representative said, as the authorities apparently moved to prosecute the ex-leader on corruption charges after stripping him of immunity.
‘This evening special forces attacked Atambayev's supporters... They opened fire, about 10 people are injured,’ a representative of Atambayev's staff, Guliza Chodubayeva, told AFP.
Prosecutors accuse the former president of making illegal land purchases and corruption, but the defiant Atambayev has gathered supporters at his estate of Koi-Tash outside Bishkek and stepped up security in recent weeks.
Following the decision by lawmakers to lift his immunity in June, the ex-leader said he would ‘stand to the end’ against the charges, calling the administration of the current president Sooronbai Jeenbekov a ‘mafia clan.’
A statement by Kyrgyzstan's national security committee (GKNB) said the committee's special forces are engaging in a ‘special operation to detain former president Almazbek Atambayev.’
The statement said the special forces were ‘only armed with rubber bullets.’
Footage shot inside the compound by journalist Mirbek Aitikeyev, who posted live updates on Facebook, showed Atambayev meeting his supporters as usual, when suddenly sounds of gunshots were audible as people screamed and scattered for cover.
The footage showed several people injured and bleeding and armed masked people in military fatigues and helmets running through the gates.
‘Don't shoot at people!’ somebody screamed.
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