ASTANA -- Law enforcement agencies in Kazakhstan are preparing in earnest for possible new terrorist attacks.
Personnel in major cities including Astana and Almaty in August held counter-terrorism exercises.
The drills come after deadly terrorist attacks in Aktobe June 5 and in Almaty July 18 rocked the country.
"The counter-terrorism exercises approximated possible real-life situations involving terrorist attacks as closely as possible," a source at the National Security Committee (KNB) Operational Headquarters for the Fight against Terrorism in Almaty told Caravanserai. "They are geared to thwarting terrorist attacks and cleaning up the consequences."
Experimenting with different terror scenarios
KNB Operational Headquarters for the Fight against Terrorism, situated in every large city, are overseeing the exercises. Those various headquarters, which exist at national, provincial, municipal and district level, were formed in 2013 in line with an anti-terrorism law.
The drills include an August 4 exercise in Almaty held to prepare for hosting the Winter Universiade 2017 sporting tournament early next year.
"Even though it was only training, they declared a high terrorist threat level in the city," Almaty resident Igor Voroshin told Caravanserai. "These exercises are useful for police, intelligence services and residents."
Other exercises in August took place in Astana, Karaganda, Kostanay, Kokshetau and Aktobe. They took place in varied settings, including a former hospital, a military base and a prep school.
The Aktobe exercise, held August 20, had police eliminate a group of hypothetical terrorists.
Similar exercises are scheduled for all major cities in Kazakhstan.
Stepping up security measures
On July 8, Prime Minister Kasim Massimov ordered Investments and Development Minister Zhenis Kassymbek at a cabinet meeting "to strengthen security in Kazakhstan's airports to prevent the very possibility of terrorist attacks like the one that recently occurred in Istanbul's airport", according to Kapital.kz.
Terrorists killed more than 40 people at the Istanbul airport July 5.
Security personnel, in compliance with an order from Massimov on June 15, already had been enforcing greater airport security before the Istanbul massacre, Kassymbek said, according to Kapital.kz.
In accordance with that earlier order, "we monitor the results daily," Kassymbek told Massimov. "Every airport now has a preliminary checkpoint boundary ... we worked with the Interior Ministry [MVD] and strengthened security along the perimeter fencing at all airports."
Kassymbek's ministry was "working on additional [airport] screening and video equipment", Kassymbek said.