Russia rushes troops as Kazakh city burns

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called in forces as part of a Moscow-led military alliance of ex-Soviet states


By Reuters

Published: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 11:59 PM

Fresh violence raged in Kazakhstan’s main city on Thursday after Russia rushed in paratroopers overnight to put down a countrywide uprising over rising fuel prices in the former Soviet state closely allied to Moscow.

Budget carrier flydubai cancelled its flights to Kazakhstan’s main city Almaty and said it’s monitoring the situation. However, flights to capital Nur-Sultan are operating as scheduled.

Police in Almaty said they had killed dozens of rioters overnight. State television said at least 18 members of the security forces had died, including two found decapitated. The interior ministry said 2,000 people had been arrested.

After a night of running confrontations between protesters and troops on the streets, a presidential residence in the city and its mayor’s office were both ablaze, and burnt out cars littered the city, journalists said. Military personnel regained control of the main airport, seized earlier by protesters. But Thursday evening saw renewed battles in Almaty’s main square, occupied alternately by troops and hundreds of protesters throughout much of the day.

Reporters heard explosions and gunfire as military vehicles and scores of soldiers advanced.

Tass news agency quoted witnesses as saying people had been killed and wounded in the new gunfire. The shooting stopped again after nightfall.

Internet was shut down across the country.

While the full extent of the unrest was not immediately clear, it was unprecedented in a country ruled firmly since Soviet times by leader Nursultan Nazarbayev

Nazarbayev’s hand-picked successor, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev called in forces from ally Russia overnight as part of a Moscow-led military alliance of ex-Soviet states. He blamed the unrest on foreign-trained terrorists who he said had seized buildings and weapons.

“It is an undermining of the integrity of the state and most importantly it is an attack on our citizens who are asking me... to help them urgently,” he said.

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