Last night, extremist forces attempted to storm administrative buildings, the Almaty city police department, as well as local departments and police stations., said police spokesman Saltanat Azirbek, quoted by Interfax-Kazakhstan, TASS and Ria Novosti agencies.
Dozens of attackers have been eliminated and their identities are being identified, he added.
According to Mr. Azirbek, an operation
counterterrorism is underway in one of the neighborhoods of Almaty, the economic capital of the country, where the riots have been the most violent.
Several armored vehicles and dozens of soldiers deployed Thursday morning in the main square in Almaty, where several hundred people again demonstrated against the government.
Images circulated in the media and on social networks showed shops looted and some administrative buildings raided and set on fire in Almaty, while automatic weapon fire could be heard.
According to the Kazakh Interior Ministry quoted by local media, at least eight members of the security forces were killed and 317 injured.
Moscow as reinforcements
Moscow and its allies of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) announced Thursday the dispatch of a “collective peacekeeping force” to Kazakhstan, as requested by the former Soviet republic.
The anger began on Sunday after a rise in liquefied natural gas (LNG) prices in the western city of Janaozen, before spreading to the large regional city of Aktau, on the edges from the Caspian Sea, then to Almaty.
The government had initially tried to calm the protesters, without success, by conceding a reduction in the price of LNG.
The rise in gas prices is perceived by the population as unfair in view of Kazakhstan’s vast oil and gas resources.
Central Asia’s largest economy, accustomed in the past to double-digit growth rates, is suffering from falling oil prices and the economic crisis in Russia, which has led to the devaluation of the Kazakh tenge and a steep inflation.
According to local public television, the country’s central bank has decided to suspend the activity of all financial institutions.
Internet access also appeared to be out of order.