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Kazakh’s president gives “shoot-to-kill” order to quell protests

Kazakh law enforcement officers block a street leading to the official presidential residence Akorda after protests against the government, following authorities’ decision to lift price caps on liquefied petroleum gas, in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, January 6, 2022. Photo: Reuters

Security forces appeared to have reclaimed the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city on Friday after days of violence, and the Russian-backed president said he had ordered his troops to shoot to kill to put down a countrywide uprising.

According to Reuters, a day after Moscow sent paratroopers to help crush the insurrection, police were patrolling the debris-strewn streets of Almaty, although some gunfire could still be heard.

Dozens have died and public buildings across Kazakhstan have been ransacked and torched in the worst violence in its 30 years of independence.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said foreign-trained terrorists were responsible for the unrest.

“The militants have not laid down their arms, they continue to commit crimes or are preparing for them,” he said in a televised address. Whoever does not surrender will be destroyed. I have given the order to law enforcement agencies and the army to shoot to kill, without warning.”

Moscow said more than 70 planes were ferrying Russian troops into Kazakhstan, and that these were now helping control Almaty’s main airport, recaptured on Thursday from protesters.

Demonstrations that began as a response to a fuel price hike have swelled into a broad movement against the government and ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81, the longest-serving ruler of any former Soviet state.

He turned over the presidency to Tokayev three years ago but his family is widely believed to have retained influence in Nur-Sultan, the purpose-built capital that bears his name.