- Security forces in Kazakhstan are trying to quell nationwide protests over rising fuel prices.
- Police said Thursday that they killed dozens of protesters who stormed government buildings in Almaty.
- President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has called the protesters “terrorists.”
Police in Kazakhstan said on Thursday that they had killed dozens of protesters who stormed government buildings during widespread fuel-price demonstrations the day before, the Associated Press reported.
Protests that began Sunday in the western region of Mangistau over skyrocketing fuel prices have spread nationwide and to Almaty, the country’s largest city, on Tuesday.
Police in Almaty fired on protesters and used stun grenades and tear gas, while protesters attacked armored vehicles with bricks and set fire to government property.
On Thursday, police said they killed dozens of protesters who broke into government offices, including that of the mayor of Almaty, which was set on fire.
“Dozens of attackers were liquidated,” Saltanat Azirbek, a police spokeswoman, told the state-run Khabar-24 news channel, the AP reported.
She said protesters also stole police weapons, the BBC reported.
As of Thursday, 12 law enforcement officers have been killed and 353 have been injured, the AP reported. One of the officers was found beheaded, Azirbek said, according to the AP.
Protesting without a permit is illegal in Kazakhstan.
“Almaty was attacked, destroyed, vandalized, the residents of Almaty became victims of attacks by terrorists, bandits, therefore it is our duty … to take all possible actions to protect our state,” Tokayev said.
Tokayev also called for help from the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization — an alliance of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan — which said Wednesday it would send “peacekeeping forces” into Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan’s government resigned in the wake of the protests, and an interim cabinet is now in place.
The rallies were triggered after the government removed a cap on the price of liquefied petroleum gas, one of the most popular fuels in the country, which saw the price double almost immediately.
On Tuesday, Tokayev instructed regional leaders to reinstate the price cap, Reuters reported, but the violence has persisted and intensified.
Protesters also decried the legacy of the former president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who stepped down in March 2019 after nearly 30 years in power.
Since then, Nazarbayev has served in a national security role, but he was fired Wednesday in an attempt to placate protesters.