Nur-Sultan, Jan 6 (EFE).- Kazakhstan’s police and army were carrying out an “anti-terrorist operation” in Almaty’s administrative center in which “dozens” of demonstrators have been killed, city police spokeswoman Saltanat Azirbek said Thursday.
“Dozens of attackers were liquidated. We are establishing their identities,” she said, without specifying the exact number, the Interfax-Kazakhstan news agency reported.
“An anti-terrorist operation is being carried out in the area where three administrative buildings are located. We urge residents and visitors to the city to avoid leaving their homes,” she said.
The police representative said that during the early morning “extremist forces attempted to seize several administrative headquarters, the Almaty police department, as well as several regional police units.”
Police in Almaty have arrested around 2,000 protesters, the Interior Ministry said.
“Almaty police officers (…) began the arrest of violators of order. In total, about 2,000 people have been transferred to the police units,” Kazakhstan’s state news agency Kazinform quoted sources at the ministry as saying.
But according to the Russian agency TASS, the situation in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s capital until 1997, is still tense, reporting that on Thursday many armed people were roaming the streets, breaking store windows and looting shops.
Local media reported machine gun fire could be heard in the city, and social media users posted that both police and military as well as demonstrators were armed.
On Wednesday authorities reported the deaths of at least 10 uniformed personnel during the riots and fighting to expel protesters from Almaty airport.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev assumed the leadership of the Security Council and promised to act firmly in the face of protests that have shaken the country.
The head of state subsequently requested assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance consisting of six former Soviet republics, including Russia, which has already agreed to his request.
The demonstrations broke out on January 2 in response to an increase in liquefied gas prices, the main automotive fuel used in the Central Asian nation, but they turned into riots on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the storming of administrative headquarters and serious acts of vandalism. EFE