Dozens killed in Kazakhstan unrest, police say


A police official in Kazakhstan’s largest city said Thursday that dozens of people were killed in attacks on government buildings.

There were attempts to storm buildings in Almaty during the night and “dozens of attackers were liquidated,” police spokeswoman Saltanat Azirbek said Thursday. She spoke on state news channel Khabar-24. The reported attempts to storm the buildings came after widespread unrest in the city on Wednesday, including seizure of the mayor’s building, which was set on fire.

Kazakhstan is experiencing the worst street protests the country has seen since gaining independence three decades ago. Government buildings have been set ablaze and at least eight law enforcement officers also have been killed.

A Russia-led military alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, said early Thursday that it would send peacekeeper troops to Kazakhstan at the request of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Kazakhstan has been rocked by intensifying protests that began on Sunday over a sharp rise in prices for liquefied petroleum gas fuel.

Troops are seen Thursday at the main square of Almaty, where hundreds of people have been protesting against the government. (Mariya Gordeyeva/Reuters)

Anger aimed at former president

Initially sparked by anger at the fuel price rise, the protests have spread to take in wider opposition to Tokayev’s predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev, who retained significant power despite quitting in 2019 after a nearly three-decade rule.

Nazarbayev, 81, has been widely seen as the main political force in Nur-Sultan, the purpose-built capital which bears his name. His family is believed to control much of the economy, the largest in Central Asia. He has not been seen or heard from since the protests began.

The Central Asian nation’s reputation for stability under Nazarbayev helped attract hundreds of billions of dollars of foreign investment in its oil and metals industries.

But a younger generation is demanding the liberalization seen in other former satellite states of the Soviet Union. The protests are the worst in Kazakhstan — a country five times the size of France with a population of nearly 19 million people — in over a decade.

Smoke rises from the city hall building during a protest in Almaty on Wednesday. News outlets in Kazakhstan reported that demonstrators protesting rising fuel prices broke into the mayor’s office and flames were seen coming from inside. (Yan Blagov/The Associated)

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