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BISHKEK, January 15. /TASS/. In the continuing armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq, 33 Kyrgyzstan’s nationals were killed in militants’ armed missions, representative of the Interior Ministry’s department on fighting terrorism and extremism Stalbek Rakhmanov said on Friday.
"According to the information we have, 508 citizens, including 387 men and 121 women, have left from the republic to Syria and Iraq," he said, adding 83 of those "are under legal age and were taken to the conflict areas by their parents."
"As of today, about 40 people have returned from Syria and Iraq," he said. Investigation into their activities is under way, he added.
Extremist and terrorist organizations continue to recruit actively Kyrgyz citizens, the official said.
"From beginning of the active phase of fighting terrorism and extremism, which continues for over a year now, we have revealed 266 cases related to activities of terrorist organizations involved in recruiting, mercenary and transportation of our citizens to the areas of armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq," he said.
In late December, Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev told a news conference between 400 and 500 people had left Kyrgyzstan for Iraq and Syria to take part in the fighting in the ranks of international terrorist groups.
"However, the problem is not that they have left," he said. "The big problem is that they return." Atambayev believes that drastic measures should be taken against such persons. "It is necessary to pass a relevant law and to deprive such people of the republic’s citizenship," the president said. According to him, many countries are now using this practice, in particular, France.
"There should be no turning back for such people," Atambayev noted, since such people may try to "destabilize the situation" in Kyrgyzstan itself. "They (terrorists) are already moving to Afghanistan, and from there using roundabout paths they will come here too," he said. "So far, our intelligence agencies work well, but no one is safe from harm." According to him, intelligence agencies need more funds to effectively counter these threats. It is also necessary to increase citizens’ educational level, he said.