KYRGYZSTAN security forces have thwarted a plot by Islamic extremists to attack an airbase used by US-led troops fighting in Afghanistan, a security official said today.
Three citizens of the central Asian ex-Soviet republic were detained when “homemade weapons, grenades, sub-machine gun cartridges, a plan of attack and bomb-making equipment were found in a Bishkek apartment,” a national security service official said.
The target of the plot was Manas airbase, which is close to the capital and is a launchpad for US-led operations in nearby Afghanistan, the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The official described the three as members of Hizbut Tahrir, a group which is banned in central Asia but permitted in most Western countries and has rejected the use of violence for achieving its stated aim of establishing an Islamic caliphate in Central Asia.
Under interrogation the three detainees admitted to having attended terrorist training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the security official said.
The detentions came after the United States last week renewed a warning that extremist Islamic groups may be planning attacks against US citizens or interests in Kyrgyzstan.
Analysts have warned that disaffected Hizbut Tahrir members could break with the organisation’s non-violent ideology.
Western personnel based at Manas now number around 1000, half of them from the United States, and have gradually been reduced from a total of 2000 at the peak of operations in Afghanistan.