Security personnel in Kazakhstan killed dozens of demonstrators in the city of Almaty amid widespread street protests on Wednesday night, AFP reported.
For several days, large-scale protests are taking place in the Central Asian country, which is a former member of the Soviet Republic, against rising fuel prices. The cost of liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG, used in several vehicles in the country, has doubled after a price hike at the beginning of the year.
“Last night, extremist forces tried to assault administrative buildings, the Almaty city police department, as well as local police commissariats,” police spokesperson Saltanat Azirbek said. “Dozens of assailants were eliminated.”
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev accepted the government’s resignation on Wednesday amid the unrest, Reuters reported. He has directed acting ministers to reverse the increase in fuel prices.
At least eight law enforcement officers have been killed and 317 others wounded in the violence till Wednesday, local media reported citing the interior ministry.
Tokayev on Wednesday also announced a two-week state of emergency in the entire country, AP reported. A state emergency was already in place in Almaty and the capital city of Nur-Sultan.
The president alleged that the protests were being carried out by “terrorist bands” and that they had received help from other countries.
On Thursday, Tokayev said that he has sought help from Russia-led alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, which has five other former Soviet countries as its members, according to AFP.
The organisation’s chairperson, Armenian President Nikol Pashinyan, said that it will send peacekeeping forces “for a limited period of time in order to stabilise and normalise the situation in this country”.
Pashinyan also alleged that the protests took place due to “outside interference”.
The demonstrators have expressed their opposition to Tokayev’s predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev. The former president retains a significant amount of power even after resigning in 2019 following a three-decade rule, according to Reuters.
In the city of Aqtobe, protestors shouted slogans of “Old Man, go away!”, referring to Nazarbayev.
Earlier, Tokayev sacked Nazarbayev as the head of the country’s Security Council in an apparent attempt to placate the protestors. He also removed Nazarbayev’s nephew from the second-highest position in the State Security Committee.