Kazakhstan: More than 160 killed, 5,000 arrested during riots | News

Soaring fuel prices sparked unrest a week ago in parts of the provinces, but violence soon reached major cities.

More than 160 people have been killed and 5,000 arrested in Kazakhstan after riots have rocked Central Asia’s largest country over the past week.

Local media quoted the Interior Ministry on Sunday that preliminary estimates put property damage at around 175 million euros ($198 million) after the bloody violence.

The ministry said that more than 100 companies and banks were attacked and looted, and about 400 cars were destroyed.

On Sunday, Russia’s Sputnik news agency quoted the Ministry of Health as saying that a total of 164 people, including two children, were killed in the violence.

It added that 103 people died in the main city of Almaty in Kazakhstan, where the worst violence occurred.

“Today the situation has stabilized in all regions of the country,” Interior Minister Erlan Turgombayev said, adding, however, “the anti-terror operation is continuing in an attempt to restore order in the country.”

Relative calm appeared to have returned to the main city of Almaty, where police sometimes fired shots into the air to prevent people from approaching its central square.

The Interior Ministry said a total of 5,135 people were arrested for questioning as part of 125 separate investigations into the unrest.

shoot to kill policy

The energy-rich country of about 19 million people has been hit by a week of violence with dozens killed in riots that prompted President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to issue shoot-to-kill orders to end the unrest he has blamed on what he calls “bandits and terrorists”.

Fuel price hikes sparked unrest a week ago in areas of western provinces, but quickly reached major cities, including the economic hub Almaty, where riots broke out and police opened fire with live ammunition amid the country’s bloodiest violence in 30 years of independence.

At the invitation of Tokayev, the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization sent forces to restore order, an intervention that comes at a time of heightened tension in relations between Russia and the United States ahead of new talks on the Ukraine crisis.

“A number of strategic facilities have been transferred under the protection of the unified peacekeeping unit of the CSTO member states,” the presidential office said in a statement detailing a security briefing headed by Tokayev.

The facilities were not specified.

Former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev was the longest-serving ruler of any former Soviet state until he handed over the presidency to Tokayev in 2019. It is widely believed that his family retained their influence in Nur-Sultan, the purpose-built capital that bears his name.

On Wednesday, Tokayev dismissed Nazarbayev from the post of head of the country’s Security Council, a role in which he continued to exercise great influence.

Former Kazakh intelligence chief and twice prime minister Karim Masimov was arrested on suspicion of treason.

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