November 2, 2016 / 8:43 AM / 3 years ago

Kazakh man sentenced to death for police, prostitute shooting

ALMATY (Reuters) - A Kazakh man was sentenced to death on Wednesday for killing 10 people, mostly policemen, in a July shooting spree, to avenge what he called the suffering of Muslims at the hands of police.

Authorities at the time described Ruslan Kulekbayev’s attack on a police station and security office in Kazakhstan’s financial capital Almaty as an Islamist assault.

The 26-year-old pleaded guilty to the shooting, and admitted killing a woman working as a prostitute the night before, saying he saw her occupation as sinful.

His state-appointed lawyer told local news website he would not appeal - though the Central Asian nation has had a moratorium on executions since 2003, meaning death sentences are usually commuted to life imprisonment.

A month before Kulekbayev’s attacks, two dozen men attacked two firearms stores and a National Guard facility in the city of Aktobe, killing seven people.

The oil-rich former Soviet republic is officially secular, though most of its population is Muslim.

More conservative Salafist forms of the religion have become increasingly popular since the country became independent in 1991. Authorities say hundreds of Kazakhs have also joined Islamic State in recent years.

Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov

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