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Dozens of protesters and police dead amid Kazakhstan unrest | Kazakhstan

Dozens of protesters and a minimum of 12 police officers have died throughout ongoing violence in Kazakhstan, authorities claimed, as “peacekeepers” from a Russian-led navy alliance arrived within the nation on the request of the embattled president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Witnesses in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis, described scenes of chaos on Thursday, with authorities buildings stormed or set on fireplace and widespread looting. Many of these demonstrating mentioned the protests had began out peaceable earlier within the week, and turned violent after a heavy-handed authorities response.

The inside ministry mentioned 2,298 individuals had been arrested in the course of the unrest, whereas the police spokesperson Saltanat Azirbek instructed state information channel Khabar-24 that “dozens of attackers have been liquidated”. There have been additionally experiences of about 400 individuals in hospital. Metropolis officers in Almaty mentioned 748 officers from police and the nationwide guard had been injured and 18 killed, one of whom they claimed had been discovered beheaded.

It was not instantly attainable to confirm the figures, however video footage confirmed violent clashes between protesters and authorities in a quantity of totally different cities.

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Native journalist Ardak Bukeeva, who spent Thursday talking with protesters in central Almaty, mentioned demonstrators who stormed the presidential residence within the metropolis instructed her that dozens of individuals had been killed in the course of the assault.

Many protesters mentioned they’d been prompted to come back out earlier within the week consequently of long-simmering frustrations with the political and financial scenario within the nation, Bukeeva mentioned. Nonetheless, on Wednesday, the scenario turned violent, with some claiming provocateurs had arrived to intentionally trigger bother, and others noting that police have been virtually completely absent from town centre.

Gunfire heard during protests in Kazakhstan's biggest city – video
Gunfire heard throughout protests in Kazakhstan’s greatest metropolis – video

Irina Mednikova, a civil society activist in Almaty, mentioned she noticed massive swimming pools of blood within the grass across the presidential residence within the metropolis on Thursday morning, and an absence of safety forces or police.

“The residence was fully burned. The gates had been rammed open with automobiles or tractors, all of the glass was damaged, and inside there was smoke and a horrible scent of burning,” she mentioned.

Web and cell phone reception was down in most of the nation for a lot of Thursday, with solely state tv accessible to most Kazakhs to obtain information in regards to the protests. Wild rumours unfold by phrase of mouth, and it was troublesome to confirm claims.

Afterward Thursday, information businesses reported renewed gunfire in Almaty and navy autos on the transfer within the metropolis. State tv claimed an “anti-terrorist operation” was beneath means.

“The terrorists are utilizing civilians, together with girls, as human shields. The police forces try their finest to make sure the safety of metropolis residents,” state-controlled Khabar 24 instructed its viewers. By Thursday night, authorities claimed they’d all authorities buildings in Almaty beneath management.

Occasions have escalated rapidly for the reason that protests began over an increase in gas costs within the west of the nation over the weekend. They rapidly unfold, and by Tuesday 1000’s of individuals got here on to the streets in Almaty.

Valeria Ibraeva, an artwork historian who watched the protest from her window overlooking one of Almaty’s major thoroughfares, mentioned on Tuesday the crowds have been “pleasant and smiling, with out aggression and with heaps of hope”. By Wednesday, nevertheless, there have been makes an attempt to overturn a bus on the road, and widespread looting of outlets, she mentioned.

On Wednesday morning, Tokayev declared a state of emergency and accepted the resignation of the federal government. He additionally mentioned he was changing Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ran the nation from its independence in 1991 till 2019, as head of the safety council.

However, these strikes did not quell the unrest, and late on Wednesday Tokayev appealed for the intervention from the Collective Safety Treaty Group (CSTO) – an alliance made up of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The request was swiftly authorized and Russian paratroopers arrived in Kazakhstan on Thursday. The choice to intervene got here simply hours after Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson mentioned there must be no overseas interference in Kazakhstan.

The Russian defence ministry printed photos of Russian troops boarding navy plane on their approach to Kazakhstan. Russian MP Leonid Kalashnikov instructed Interfax the troops would keep “for so long as the president of Kazakhstan believes it essential”. He mentioned they might primarily be engaged in defending “infrastructure” within the nation.

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People queue at a functioning cash machine in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan.
Folks queue at a functioning money machine within the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan. {Photograph}: Mikhail Yegikov/Tass

Whereas it’s clear that the protests have been accompanied by violence and looting, there is no such thing as a proof that foreign-trained “terrorists” are concerned, as Tokayev has claimed.

It’s also placing that Tokayev felt he couldn’t depend on Kazakhstan’s intensive safety assets alone to place down the revolt, and suggests he could have felt unable to depend on the loyalty of his forces.

Radio Azattyq, the Kazakh service of Radio Liberty, reported unrest in cities throughout the nation. In Aktobe, protesters had acquired collectively to defend the airport and railway station, insisting they didn’t need violence and demanding negotiations with authorities. In different cities there have been burned-out automobiles, a shutdown in public infrastructure and panic as individuals couldn’t withdraw cash from banks and discovered their playing cards didn’t work after the banking system closed down.

Within the city of Taldykorgan, protesters pulled down a monument to Nazarbayev on Wednesday. The previous president, who has the official title chief of the nation, has not surfaced in public for the reason that protests started, and there have been rumours on Thursday he and his household could have fled the nation.

Western international locations, who have been already on excessive alert over a possible Russian assault on Ukraine, regarded on with unease, conscious there was little they may do to affect occasions in Kazakhstan.

“Any forces deployed should have a transparent mission and act proportionately in any use of drive to defend the authentic safety pursuits in Kazakhstan,” mentioned the British overseas secretary, Liz Truss.

The US secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, talked to his Kazakhstani counterpart, Mukhtar Tileuberdi, and “advocated for a peaceable, rights-respecting decision to the disaster”, in response to a state division readout of the decision.

Extra reporting by Yevgeniya Plakhina

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