Suspected Islamist militants kill three police officers in Kazakhstan

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Gunmen who may have been Islamist militants killed three policemen and a member of the public in Kazakhstan on Monday, the country’s President said.

Nursultan Nazarbayev called the shootings in the commercial capital Almaty a terrorist act and the terror threat level has been raised.

The interior ministry said one 27-year-old suspect had been detained but an accomplice was still at large.

The attack comes a month after a deadly assault by suspected Islamist militants in the north-western town of Aktobe.

Oil-rich Kazakhstan has also recently seen rare protests and violent acts by people angry at proposed land reforms.

Two gunmen attacked a police station in central Almaty, killing the three police officers in an exchange of fire, police said.

As they fled the scene, one of the gunmen shot and killed a local resident before hijacking his car.

Kazakh authorities said two police officers had also been wounded in the attack and identified the detained gunman as a former convict wanted for the murder of a woman earlier this month.

President Nazarbayev has ordered tighter security measures in public areas, the agency adds.

In the attack in Aktobe last month, groups of men targeted gun stores and a military base, killing seven people. At least 18 attackers were killed by police.

Kazakhstan is wealthier than other post-Soviet central Asian states, and has been ruled by its authoritarian president since 1989.

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