Government troops in Kyrgyzstan have twice stormed the home of a former president in an attempt to detain him, only to be driven back in clashes with his supporters.
The failed attempts to arrest Almazbek Atambayev marked a growing political crisis in a country in which there has been two revolutions since 2005.
Footage from Atambayev’s compound outside the capital, Bishkek, showed fighting between the soldiers and his supporters on Wednesday evening. At one point, soldiers picked up rocks and threw them at protesters as fires raged. Photographs appeared to show several injured troops captured by Atambayev’s supporters.
State officials said a police officer had died from a gunshot wound and another was in coma after being hit by a rock. Protesters and police officers sustained bullet wounds in the fighting.
The government is attempting to arrest Atambayev on corruption and illegal enrichment charges relating to his six-year presidential term, which ended in 2017. However, his supporters say he is being targeted by the country’s new leader, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, a former ally, in an act of political retribution.
Atambayev supported Jeenbekov during a heated presidential campaign two years ago but the pair later had a public falling out.
Several prime ministers under Atambayev have also been charged with corruption, and in June he was stripped of his presidential immunity, a concession offered to top Kyrgyzstan politicians to encourage a peaceful transition of power. Atambayev, who then retreated to his compound, has defied repeated summons from investigators.
Jeenbekov accused Atambayev of violating the constitution during a hastily convened security council meeting on Thursday. “By putting up fierce armed resistance to the investigative measures undertaken within the framework of the law, Almazbek Atambayev gravely trampled upon the constitution and laws of the Kyrgyzstan,” the president said, according to Interfax news agency.