Kazakh authorities say 225 people killed in violent unrest

Nineteen members of the security forces were among those killed, says top law enforcement official.

Troops are seen at the main square where hundreds of people were protesting against the government, after authorities' decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas, in Almaty, Kazakhstan January 6, 2022.
Kazakhstan had previously acknowledged fewer than 50 deaths [File: Mariya Gordeyeva/Reuters]

Deadly violence in Kazakhstan that began with peaceful protests over energy prices and caused the government to call in help from a Russian-led military bloc killed 225 people, authorities have announced.

“During the state of emergency, the bodies of 225 people were delivered to morgues, of which 19 were law enforcement officers and military personnel,” Serik Shalabayev, a representative of the state prosecutor, said at a briefing on Saturday.

Some others were “armed bandits who participated in terrorist attacks”, Shalabayev added.

“Unfortunately, civilians have also become victims of acts of terrorism.”

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest in Almaty, Kazakhstan
Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest in Almaty, Kazakhstan [File: Vladimir Tretyakov/AP Photo]

Kazakhstan had previously acknowledged fewer than 50 deaths, 26 “armed criminals” and 18 security officers in the conflict that exposed infighting at the very top of the government.

A higher death toll of 164 that appeared on an official Telegram channel last week was quickly retracted.

Asel Artakshinova, a spokeswoman for the health ministry, said more than 2,600 people sought treatment at hospitals, with 67 currently in a serious condition.

Authorities in Kazakhstan have blamed the violence on bandits and international “terrorists” who they said hijacked the protests that saw the epicentre of unrest move from the west to the country’s largest city, Almaty.

Russian troops unboarding a military cargo plane upon landing in Ivanovo after compleeting their mission in Kazakhstan.
Russian troops alighting from a military cargo plane upon landing in Ivanovo after completing their mission in Kazakhstan [Russian Defence Ministry/AFP]

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev turned to a Russia-led military bloc for help during the unrest and sidelined his former patron and predecessor Nursultan Nazarbayev by taking over the National Security Council.

Troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), an alliance of six former Soviet states, helped calm the violence in the Central Asian country and began a gradual withdrawal on Thursday.

After complaints about beatings and torture of those detained in the aftermath, Tokayev ordered police on Saturday to avoid abuses and told prosecutors to be lenient to those who have not committed grave crimes.

The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that all of its planes carrying troops had returned. It was not clear whether troops from other CSTO countries remain in Kazakhstan.

Source: News Agencies