October 31, 2011 / 10:58 AM / 8 years ago

Suspected suicide bomber attacks Kazakh oil city

ALMATY (Reuters) - Two blasts ripped through the oil hub city of Atyrau in western Kazakhstan on Monday, prosecutors said, killing one man described by media as a suicide bomber.

No one else was hurt in the attacks, which began just before 9 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) with a blast near an administrative building in the Caspian port city, about 2,500 km (1,553 miles) west of the Kazakh capital Astana.

An hour later there was a large blast near the offices of the city’s prosecutors, police and national safety committee, regional prosecutors said.

“An unidentified man used an explosive device, making him die on the spot and breaking the windows of a nearby apartment building,” they said in a statement.

Kazakhstan’s huge Kashagan oilfield is 80 km southeast of Atyrau, in which U.S. major ExxonMobil Corp and Italy’s ENI have stakes, and several foreign oil majors have regional offices in the city.

Kazakh news site Tengrinews.kz, citing a source in the security forces, said the bomber’s body parts were scattered around the site of the blast and that he was a suicide bomber.

The blasts are the latest to befall oil-rich Kazakhstan, a normally peaceful majority Muslim former Soviet country in Central Asia. In May two fatal blasts killed several people.

They also come a week after a previously unknown Islamist group threatened Kazakhstan in a video with violence unless it abolished a new law banning prayer rooms in state buildings.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has run Kazakhstan for 20 years, this month signed a new religion law which bans prayer rooms in state buildings and requires all missionaries to register with authorities every year.

Analysts have warned that the brewing violence could signal an intensifying power struggle among security forces or a spillover of violence from neighbouring states. Tajikistan, which borders Afghanistan to its south, is struggling with violence linked to Islamist jihadist ideology.

Reporting by Maria Gordeyeva and Olga Orininskaya; writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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