Dozens killed amid unrest in Kazakhstan

Dozens have been killed in attacks on government buildings in Kazakhstan’s largest city, a police official said.

Olis spokeswoman Sultanat Azirbek said there were attempts to storm buildings in Almaty during the night and “dozens of attackers were killed”.

Attempts to storm buildings followed widespread unrest in the city on Wednesday, including the seizure of the mayor’s building, which was set on fire.

Kazakhstan is facing the worst street protests in the country since gaining independence three decades ago. Government buildings have been set on fire and at least eight law enforcement officers have been killed.

close

Smoke rises from the City Hall building during protests in Almaty (Yan Blagov/AP)

Earlier, the Russian-led military coalition said it would send peacekeeping forces to Kazakhstan after the country’s president asked for help in controlling protests caused by rising fuel prices, but swiftly escalated.

Police have repeatedly clashed with protesters in recent days, using water cannons and tear gas shells and grenades in cold weather.

The Kazakh Interior Ministry said eight police officers and members of the National Guard were killed and more than 300 were injured in the unrest.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appealed for assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-based coalition of six former Soviet countries.

Hours later, the council of the CSTO approved the sending of an unspecified number of peacekeepers, said Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the council’s chairman.

Mr Tokayev earlier vowed to take drastic measures to quell the unrest and declared a two-week state of emergency for the entire country, expanding the one declared for both the capital of Nur-Sultan and the largest city of Almaty, which Enforced overnight curfew and restricted movement in and around urban areas.

close

Riot police on the streets of Almaty in Kazakhstan (Vladimir Tretyakov / AP)

The government resigned in response to the unrest.

Kazakh news sites became inaccessible as of late, and global watchdog organization Netblox said the country was experiencing a widespread Internet blackout. Russian news agency Tass reported that Internet service was restored in Almaty early Thursday.

Although protests began over the nearly doubling of the prices of liquefied petroleum gas, widely used as a vehicle fuel, their size and rapid spread suggested that they reflect widespread discontent in the country that was the same. remained under the rule of the party. Gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Mr Tokayev claimed the unrest was led by “terrorist bands” who had received help from unspecified other countries. He also said that five planes were seized by rioters in the attack on Almaty’s airport, but the deputy mayor later said the airport was operating normally.

Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth largest country, borders Russia to the north and China to the east, and has extensive oil reserves that make it strategically and economically important.

Despite those reserves and mineral wealth, discontent remains strong over poor living conditions in some parts of the country.