Dozens of protesters reported killed in Kazakhstan as the Russian-led military alliance heads to the country

At least 13 law enforcement officials died in Almaty and 353 people were injured, state-run Khabar 24 TV reported.

More than 1,000 people in different regions were injured as a result of the unrest. Of those, nearly 400 were hospitalized, with 62 people on intensive care, the health ministry said, according to Khabar 24.

Violence continued on Thursday with security forces allegedly firing on protesters, and explosions were heard near Republic Square in Almaty, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.

The military demanded over loudspeakers that people leave the square and warned that they would open fire, TASS reported.

“It says those who run away from the square [the security forces] fired shots at the troublemakers and saw how some of them definitely fell, “a source told TASS.

The state news agency Sputnik Kazakhstan reported that groups of five to six people, some of whom were injured, were seen running from the scene.

Kazakhstan's uprising was long overdue, and it is an unwelcome distraction for Vladimir Putin

The demonstrations are the biggest challenge so far for the regime of autocratic President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, with initial public anger over a rise in fuel prices extended to broader dissatisfaction with the government over corruption, living standards, poverty and unemployment in the oil-rich, former Soviet Union. nation, according to human rights organizations.

Agence France-Presse and Reuters, which have correspondents on the ground, reported on new shots in Almaty. Shots and screams were heard in footage of the night’s clashes in Almaty.

Almaty police department representative Saltanat Azirbek told state-run Khabar 24 that “dozens of attackers were liquidated” during the night’s attempt to storm buildings in the city.

Azirbek urged people to stay home when an “anti-terror operation” was carried out.

The city police department told Khabar 24 that weapons had been stolen from a gun shop overnight. Khabar 24 reported that the bodies of two officers were found beheaded, citing the commander’s office in Almaty.

Protesters participate in a demonstration over an increase in energy prices in Almaty on January 5, 2022.

CSTO in Kazakhstan

This comes after President Tokayev on Wednesday appealed for help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – after days of protests across the country over the high fuel prices.

Protests erupted when the government lifted liquefied natural gas (LPG) price controls earlier this year, but have now expanded to an outburst of anger over the country’s government.

At a demonstration in Almaty on Wednesday night, a protester reiterated these concerns. “The government is rich. But all these people here [gesturing to crowd] will have to pay the loans to the bank tomorrow, “he told CNN.

“We are not just standing here … in difficult circumstances for nothing. We are standing because we have something to say. We have our own pain that we want to share – and it will not be pure statistics from official sources – it will be people’s pain, “he added.

Security forces are seen in Kazakhstan, while protests continued until Thursday.
Protesters gather in front of police line during a protest rally in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on January 5.

The CSTO said Thursday that its “peacekeeping contingent” had begun carrying out its duties in the country, adding that Russian forces were being transferred to Kazakhstan by military aircraft.

“The main tasks of the CSTO’s collective peacekeeping forces will be the protection of important government and military facilities, assistance to the law and order forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan in stabilizing the situation and bringing it back to the area of ​​justice.” statement read.

Russia maintains close ties with the Central Asian nation and uses the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the south of the country as a launch base for its manned space missions. Kazakhstan also has a significant ethnic Russian minority; The CIA World Factbook says that in 2019, about 20% of its 19 million population was ethnic Russian.

Russia’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it considered the situation a foreign-inspired attempt to undermine state security and integrity.

If necessary, it could take steps aimed at “facilitating the conduct of the counter-terrorism operation by law enforcement in Kazakhstan,” the ministry said in a statement released Thursday.

The United States and the European Union have condemned the violence and appealed for restraint from all parties.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said military assistance to Kazakhstan “brings back memories of situations to be avoided,” in a tweet Thursday. “The rights and security of civilians must be guaranteed,” he added. “The EU is ready to assist in tackling this crisis.”

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday that “the United States and, quite frankly, the world will keep an eye on any human rights violations.”

“We have questions about (CSTO) deployment precisely because Kazakhstan, the government of Kazakhstan, has resources, has its own resources and is a government that is and has been well fortified,” Price said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet endorsed the calls for a peaceful solution and said in a statement: “International law is clear: people have the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. do not resort to violence against others. “

Ongoing violence

Authorities in Almaty warned that people could be “shot without warning” in light of the ongoing violence, an Almaty journalist told CNN on Thursday.

The mayor’s office, the prosecution and the presidential building were attacked overnight, the journalist said. The presidential building was set on fire and there were fears the fire could spread, they added.

The city streets seem “frighteningly quiet” Thursday morning, but many shops are closed, the journalist said.

Internet and telecommunications were up for a short period Thursday after one nationwide blackout since Wednesday, the journalist added.

Kazakhstan is in turmoil and regional troops have been sent to quell the unrest.  Here's what you need to know

Kazakhstan’s national airline, Air Astana, has canceled all flights until at least Friday due to internet disruptions, Khabar 24 reported on Thursday. An airline spokesman said the Internet is essential for “performing technical checks and recordings while the aircraft is being prepared for flight.” The airline aims to resume flights as soon as the situation stabilizes and the internet connection is restored, state media reported.

Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth largest nation in terms of land mass, has attracted foreign investment and maintained a strong economy since its independence in 1991, but its autocratic method of governance has aroused international concern and has seen authorities crack down on protests according to global rights groups.

The demonstrations ignited in the oil-rich western Mangystau region when the government lifted the control of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) prices earlier this year.

On January 5, protesters reportedly stormed Almaty airport, forcibly penetrated government buildings and set fire to the city’s headquarters, according to local media. There were also reports of fatal clashes with police and military, and buildings damaged in major cities.

Much of the protesters’ anger has been directed at Kazakhstan’s leadership, which tightly controls the country.

In an effort to stem the unrest, Tokayev has sought to make concessions, including an order to reduce the price of LPG to 50 tenge ($ 0.11) per liter “to ensure stability in the country.” But they have failed to curb the protests, and Tokayev on Wednesday promised to act “as hard as possible” to stop the unrest.

Earlier the same day, authorities declared a nationwide state of emergency with curfews and movement restrictions until Jan. 19, local media reported.

CNN’s Rob Picheta, Helen Regan, Radina Gigova, Ivan Watson and Vasco Cotovio contributed to this report.

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