A group of religious extremists is thought to be behind last month's killings at a national park near the former capital of Kazakhstan, Almaty, the country's Interior Ministry said.
In mid-August, 11 bodies were discovered in the Ile Alatau National Park. Six bodies were found in the woods, and five more bodies, burned beyond recognition, were discovered in a forest ranger's hut.
“Investigators have reason to believe these crimes were committed by a group of religious extremists, their identities have been already established,” Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry said in a statement. The investigation has established that those responsible lived in hiding, moving from house to house, using rented premises, until part of the group were killed in a police-led special operation in the village of Baganashil.
The police are currently searching for the two remaining members of the group.
The victims included the park’s senior forest ranger Panayot Zakharopulo, members of his family, and other forest rangers. Zakharopulo’s son is still listed as missing. In late August, police discovered the remains of another victim, but have so far failed to identify the body.