Kazakh police ‘eliminate’ protesters as CSTO deploys troops

Spokeswoman says dozens of protesters were ‘eliminated’ overnight as a Russia-led alliance deploys troops to quell unrest.

Police in Kazakhstan have “eliminated” dozens of protesters who tried to storm government buildings, according to media reports, as a Russia-led military alliance approved a peacekeeping force to the Central Asian country to quell unrest triggered by a rise in fuel prices.

Saltanet Azirbek, spokeswoman for the Kazakh police, told Khabar-24 television channel on Thursday that “extremist forces” had attempted overnight to storm administrative building as well as police departments in the country’s largest city, Almaty.

“The dozens of attackers were eliminated, their identities are being established,” she said.

The deaths came amid continued unrest in Kazakhstan, with hundreds of protesters rallying in Almaty’s main square on Thursday, despite the presence of dozens of troops and several armoured personnel carriers.

Reuters news agency reported gunshots as the troops approached the protesters.

The renewed protests come a day after demonstrators stormed the presidential palace and the mayor’s office in Almaty and set both on fire, prompting President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to appeal for help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Moscow-based alliance of six former Soviet countries.

CSTO’s chairman, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, on Thursday said the alliance has now approved sending an unspecified number of peacekeepers to Kazakhstan.

Tokayev had earlier vowed to take harsh measures to quell the unrest and declared a two-week state of emergency for the whole country, expanding one that had been announced for both the capital of Nur-Sultan and the largest city of Almaty that imposed an overnight curfew and restricted movement into and around the urban areas.

He had also sacked the cabinet in response to the unrest.

Kazakh news sites meanwhile became inaccessible late on Wednesday, and the global watchdog organization Netblocks said the country was experiencing a pervasive internet blackout. The Russian news agency Tass reported that internet access was restored in Almaty by early Thursday.

 



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