Tue, 12 Nov 2019

NUR-SULTAN -- Fourteen Kazakh citizens accused of fighting alongside the Islamic state (IS) extremist group in Syria have gone on trial in Kazakhstan's capital, Nur-Sultan.

Thirteen of the suspects were brought into the courtroom inside a pretrial detention center on October 22 amid increased security measures.

The other accused, who is suffering injuries, attended the hearing via video link from a hospital.

The defendants are facing charges of involvement in terrorist activities, recruitment, promoting terrorism, and committing 'other serious crimes.'

They are among hundreds of Kazakh citizens who have been repatriated from Syria this year in a special operation called Zhusan.

Last week, the National Security Committee (KNB) said a total of 595 Kazakh citizens, including more than 400 children, had been returned as part of the operation.

Among them, 10 men and five women have been handed prison terms, it said.

In summer 2018, the KNB said that about 800 Kazakh citizens had left their homeland to join IS militants in Syria and Iraq since early 2014.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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