At least 13 law enforcement officials were killed in Almaty and 353 people were injured, state television Khabar 24 reported.
More than 1,000 people in different regions were injured as a result of the upheaval. Of these, nearly 400 were hospitalized, with 62 people in intensive care, the Health Ministry said, according to Khabar 24.
The violence continued on Thursday, with security forces reportedly firing on protesters and explosions were heard near Republic Square in Almaty, the Russian state news agency TASS reported.
The military demanded over loudspeakers that people leave the square and warned that they would open fire, TASS reported.
“Those who flee the square say that [the security forces] he fired at the rioters and saw some of them definitely go down, “a source told TASS.
The state news agency Sputnik Kazakhstan reported that groups of five to six people, some of whom were injured, ran from the scene.
Agence France-Presse and Reuters, who have correspondents on the ground, reported new shootings in Almaty.
Gunshots and screams were heard in footage of the nightly clashes in Almaty.
Almaty Police Department representative Saltanat Azirbek told Khabar 24 that “dozens of attackers were killed” during nightly attempts to raid buildings in the city.
Azirbek urged people to stay home as an “anti-terrorist operation” was carried out on Thursday.
The city police department told Khabar 24 that the guns had been stolen from a gun shop overnight. State-run Khabar 24 also reported that the bodies of two officers were found beheaded, citing the Almaty commander’s office.
CSTO in Kazakhstan
This comes after Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called for help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, on Wednesday after the days of protests across the country over the increase. fuel prices.
The demonstrations are the biggest challenge yet for the autocratic Tokayev government, with initial public anger over a spike in fuel prices expanding to broader discontent with the government over corruption, living standards, poverty. and unemployment in the oil-rich former Soviet nation, according to human rights organizations.
At a rally in Almaty on Wednesday night, a protester reiterated these concerns: “The government is rich. But all these people here [gesturing to crowd] Tomorrow he will have to pay the loans to the bank, “he told CNN.
“We are not standing here … in difficult circumstances for nothing. We are standing because we have something to say. We have our own pain that we want to share, and it will not be pure statistics from official sources, it will be pain for the people.” added.
The CSTO said on Thursday that its “peacekeeping contingent” had begun to carry out its duties in the country, adding that Russian forces were being flown to Kazakhstan on military planes.
“The main tasks of the CSTO Peacekeeping Collective Forces will be the protection of important government and military facilities, assisting the public order forces of the Republic of Kazakhstan to stabilize the situation and return it to the legal field”, added. statement read.
Russia maintains close relations with the Central Asian nation and uses the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the south of the country as a launch base for its manned space missions. Kazakhstan also has a significant Russian ethnic minority; The CIA’s World Factbook says that in 2019 about 20% of its 19 million people were ethnically Russian.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Thursday that it viewed the situation as an attempt by foreign inspiration to undermine the security and integrity of the state.
If necessary, it could take measures aimed at “facilitating the conduct of the counterterrorism operation by Kazakhstan’s law enforcement agencies,” the ministry said in a statement released Thursday.
Both the United States and the European Union have condemned the violence and called for restraint from all parties.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a tweet Thursday that military assistance to Kazakhstan “brings back memories of situations that must be avoided.”
“The rights and safety of civilians must be guaranteed,” he added. “The EU stands ready to help address this crisis.”
Almaty authorities warned that people could be “shot without warning” in light of the ongoing violence, a journalist in Almaty told CNN on Thursday.
The mayor’s office, the prosecutor’s office and the presidential building were attacked during the night, the journalist said. The presidential building was burned down and the fire was feared to spread, they added.
The city streets appear “terrifyingly quiet” Thursday morning, but many stores are closed, the journalist said.
The internet and telecommunications were up for a brief time on Thursday after a national blackout since Wednesday, added the journalist.
Kazakhstan, the ninth largest nation in the world by land area, has attracted foreign investment and maintained a strong economy since its independence in 1991, but its autocratic method of governance has generated international concern and has seen the authorities crack down on protests. according to Global Rights. groups.
The demonstrations flared in the oil-rich western region of Mangystau, when the government lifted price controls on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) earlier in the year.
By January 5, protesters stormed Almaty airport, forcibly entered government buildings and set fire to the city’s main administration office, according to local media. There were also reports of deadly clashes with the police and the army, and damaged buildings in major cities.
Much of the protesters’ anger has been directed at the Kazakh leadership, which strictly controls the country.
In an effort to stem the unrest, Tokayev has tried to make concessions, including an order to reduce the price of LPG to 50 tenge ($ 0.11) per liter “to ensure stability in the country.” But they have failed to stop the protests and Tokayev vowed on Wednesday to act “as tough as possible” to stop the unrest.
That same day, authorities declared a nationwide state of emergency with a curfew and movement restrictions until January 19, local media reported.
CNN’s Rob Picheta, Helen Regan, Radina Gigova, Ivan Watson and Vasco Cotovio contributed to this report.