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Kyrgyz special forces storm former-president’s compound: How a sleepy village became a warzone

Kyrgyz special forces storm former-president’s compound: How a sleepy village became a warzone
It was a typical evening at ex-president Almazbek Atambayev’s mansion, with supporters milling about his yard, hoping to meet their revered ex-leader. Minutes later, the serene compound would be turned into a bloody battlefield.

Also on rt.com Special forces storm ex Kyrgyz president’s compound again, after Wednesday raid left one dead

That was Wednesday. By Thursday evening, a third raid had been launched and Atambayev was detained. The embattled former leader is now in the custody of the Kyrgyz interior ministry, and is being interrogated for the previous day’s bloodbath. 

RT looks at how it all started.

Footage taken on Wednesday, August 7, shows supporters shaking hands with the former Kyrgyz statesman. A child wanders over, looking up curiously at him. Then, at around 19:30 local time, gunshots ring out, turning the quiet village into a warzone. Everyone scatters as Atambayev is quickly ushered to safety by a group of supporters.The shooting intensifies, but the people who have gathered in the compound’s courtyard regroup and start to fight back. They gather stones, throwing them over the fence at their assailants – a special forces unit that has come to arrest the ex-president on corruption charges.

The security forces break through the fence, but the raid rapidly goes awry.

The members of the elite squad find themselves attacked on all sides by more rocks and sticks, as well as conventional weapons. The troops use rubber bullets and flash grenades in an attempt to dispel the mob, but are briefly forced to retreat. About ten people are injured.


They lick their wounds – but not for long. Once the sun sets, the forces return, donning bulletproof vests and armed with rifles this time, to make a second attempt at apprehending Atambayev.

Hopelessly outnumbered, they once again breach the compound’s walls – and force their way into the main residence.

More gunshots. More chaos. Atambayev’s supporters use fireworks to scare off the soldiers, resulting in a massive fire outside the compound that lights up the night sky.

The mob overpower the security forces and disarm them, detaining six people. Videos and photographs show Atambayev’s supporters celebrating as they lead the disarmed men off the property. 

When the dust finally settles, the luxury mansion is nearly gutted, with shards of broken glass and furniture covering the floors. Bloody handprints can be seen on white walls pockmarked by gunshots.


Atambayev would later retell how he fired at the special forces from the third floor – while taking care not to hit any of the “boys.” The battle is over. Not taking any chances, supporters block a road leading to Atambayev’s house to prevent a potential third raid.

Later some 2,000 people assembled at the compound, ready to defend their beloved ex-leader.

Kyrgyz special forces storm former-president’s compound: How a sleepy village became a warzone

The long casualty list illustrates the violence and chaos of the night: One special forces member died from injuries sustained when he was shot in the chest. In total, 52 people were wounded – including 15 police officers. Nearly two dozen people in total were hospitalized as a result of their injuries. A local journalist was also injured in the leg by a rubber bullet.

The peace didn’t last long. Using the same tactics, special forces breached the compound again on Thursday, firing rubber bullets and deploying flash grenades. Atambayev’s office told the media that the former leader surrendered himself that evening, giving up the fight and leaving the house of his own accord.

The violence didn’t end at Atambayev’s arrest. The convoy carrying the detained ex-President was blocked by crowds of his supporters on its way out of the village and forced to take a detour. However, a spokesman for the interior ministry said that the situation "remains stable and law enforcement officials have everything under control," Russian news agency TASS reported. Atambayev was eventually taken to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Also on rt.com Former Kyrgyz president Atambayev detained after special forces storm his mansion for third time

After leaving office in 2017, Atambayev faced charges of concealing his income, of corruption and other crimes.

In June, parliament stripped the ex-leader of his immunity, allowing authorities to press forward with their investigation. The 62-year-old has denied all accusations, claiming that he has fallen victim to a “campaign of lies and slander.”

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