Sunday 1/16/22
POLITICAL UNREST

Kazakhstan says 164 people killed in week of unrest

Almost 6,000 people have been arrested, including many foreigners, the presidential office said
08 January 2022, United Kingdom, London: People take part in a protest at Trafalgar Square to show solidarity with demonstrators in Kazakhstan. The Central Asian country this week experienced the worst street protests since its independence from the Soviet Union three decades ago, with dozens of people killed in the unrest. Photo: Tayfun Salci/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa.
People take part in a protest at Trafalgar Square to show solidarity with demonstrators in Kazakhstan. Photo: Tayfun Salci/dpa.

A total of 164 people have been killed during the past week of protests in Kazakhstan, according to Health Ministry figures cited by state-run media.

More than 2,200 people were said to have been injured in the violence, which saw Kazakh security forces respond with a heavy hand to the anti-government protesters.

According to the Health Ministry, 719 people were being treated in hospitals on Sunday, 83 of them in critical condition. The authorities did not comment on the nature of the injuries.

It is difficult to independently verify information in the tightly-controlled Central Asian country.

Demonstrations incited by soaring fuel prices began a week ago in western Kazakhstan, a country bigger than Western Europe, before turning into a broader revolt against the authoritarian government.

In Almaty, the country's largest city, the protests devolved into riots and clashes that left buildings torched and businesses looted.

According to the report by state television, 103 people - including two children - died in Almaty alone. Some 1,100 people there sought medical help, it said.

It was initially unclear how many of the victims were civilians. Previously, the authorities had spoken of more than 40 dead, among them at least 16 police officers and soldiers.

'Terrorists'

Following a crisis meeting on Sunday, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's office said that operations to contain the protests continue and described the situation as being under control.

"Measures are being taken to locate and arrest terrorists," it said.

So far, almost 6,000 people have been arrested, including many foreigners, the presidential office said.

Tokayev has repeatedly said that the protesters who are threatening the survivial of his government are being supported from abroad but has offered little evidence to support the claim.

Interior Minister Erlan Turgumbayev said more than 100 shopping centres, bank buildings and about 400 vehicles - mostly police cars - were destroyed, in comments to broadcaster Khabar 24.

Amid a heavy-handed response to protesters, authorities meanwhile were trying to restore a sense of normality.

The Ministry of Trade said supplies of basic foodstuffs had been secured in remote regions, Russian news agency TASS reported. The Energy Ministry said fuel and liquefied gas was starting to be supplied.

Police, security officers killed or injured

Sixteen members of security forces have been killed in the unrest, with some 1,300 police officers, soldiers and other members of the security agencies injured in clashes, according to Interior Ministry figures released before the Health Ministry data.

Tokayev on Friday issued a shoot-to-kill order against protesters threatening his government's survival.

Since the protests erupted, Tokayev has dismissed the government and top leaders from the country's Security Council, declared a state of emergency and asked a Russian-led military alliance for help.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an alliance of former Soviet states, has sent 2,500 paratroopers to Kazakhstan as part of a peacekeeping force.

Its member states are now planning to hold a video conference on Monday to discuss further steps, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian state news agency Interfax on Sunday.

Besides Russia and Kazakhstan, the alliance also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic that borders Russia and China, is rich in oil and gas. Despite its vast size, it has a population of only around 18 million.

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