Kazakhstan (MNN — A suicide bomber wounded two bystanders in the Kazakh city of Aktobe when he blew himself up inside the offices of the state security services. However, officials says the explosion wasn't linked to Islamic terrorism.
The bomber is identified as a 25-year-old member of a criminal group in the northwestern Kazakh city who was already under suspicion for other crimes.
Joel Griffith with
Slavic Gospel Association says, "From what we're able to gather, this is the first time that's happened in Kazakhstan's modern history. Apparently this bomber walked into Kazakhstan's version of the KGB, or internal security, and detonated this explosive."
Central Asia's biggest economy, where 70 percent of the 16.4 million population are Muslim, has to date avoided the Islamist violence that has occurred in its ex-Soviet neighbors. Some say officials were too quick to say the attack had no connection to Islamic terrorism. "Even though it's a Muslim dominated nation in Central Asia, they haven't faced the same kind of insurgency that Uzbekistan and some of the other Central Asian nations have looked at. I'm sure the government would have an interest in downplaying that if that was the case."
According to reports, regional imams were meeting to discuss the incident, but they didn't know who was connected to the bombing.
Griffith isn't sure, either, but he is praying that Christians would be wise in how they handle it. "Their view and their actual practice have been to be very low key about things like this. Obviously, [we're] urging prayer, reconciliation and taking whatever opportunity they can have for the Gospel through this."
Christians have been losing religious freedom in Kazakhstan in the past decade. Kazakhstan has made it difficult and almost impossible for evangelical missionaries to secure visas to work there. They've also put pressure on unregistered churches. Despite this, young church leaders are emerging, and SGA is praying that they'll receive the training they need to help the church grow in Kazakhstan.
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