Protests in Kazakhstan
On 2 January, Kazakhstan was hit by protests in the wake of a spike in fuel prices. The riots turned violent on 4 January, leading to clashes between protesters and the police, looting, killings, and deepening insecurity. The president has declared a nationwide state of emergency.
Video: Renewed Shooting in Central Almaty as Gas Price Riots Continue
20:08 GMT 06.01.2022 (Updated: 04:45 GMT 07.01.2022)
Gunfire was heard again in the city early in the morning on Friday, however, the barricades have been dismantled and there are no police officers or protesters on the streets, a Sputnik correspondent said.
The local newspaper Vlast reported gunshots and explosions in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city and former capital, which has experienced several days of violent riots. The shooting was reported in the area of Republic Square, a large public space downtown that has been the site of several incidents involving rioters and police.
Police reportedly used a loudspeaker to demand people leave the streets, and all residents received text messages on their phones reminding them of the curfew, according to Mir-24.
Calmer protests were also reported in Aktau, a city on the opposite side of the country, on the Caspian Sea where the crisis began several days ago. Rich in petroleum, locals demonstrated over a sharp rise in the price of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) used in homes and vehicles.
Kazakh television reported demonstrators were proceeding to the city's central square, but did not report any clashes with police. However, another report also said a group of activists had blocked the road to the city's airport. This came after reporters earlier on Thursday suggested demonstrators were dismantling tents and preparing to leave the square.
On Friday, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev announced that six gas companies would be investigated for potential price collusion that might have caused the unpopular price spike. According to Kazakh TV channel Khabar 24, members of the government in the Mangystau Region, where Aktau is located, met with protesters on Thursday to discuss the possibility of resolving the situation, including by lowering gas prices and obtaining guarantees of preserving public safety.
Tokyaev has declared a state of emergency, dismissed the government, and removed the head of the country's Security Council, former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, from his position.
The violence has spread to numerous cities around the country, where violent clashes with police have left nearly 750 officers injured and 18 dead, two of whom were reportedly beheaded. More than 2,200 demonstrators have been arrested and at least 168 have been injured, including 77 who have been hospitalised.
Because of the rioting, which has seen demonstrators seizing arms, torching public buildings, and killing police and national guardsmen, Tokayev invoked the mutual self-defence clause of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), for which Russia and Armenia agreed to provide peacekeeping forces in the Central Asian country. The soldiers have been assigned duties defending Kazakh public buildings and have authority to return fire if attacked by rioters. They will not be assigned to disperse protesters, the CSTO said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has said it views the events in Kazakhstan as an outsider-inspired attempt to undermine the country's security and integrity.
A source in the United Nations told RIA Novosti that Kazakhstan's permanent envoy to the international forum had given the Security Council a document updating them on the measures taken to stabilise the situation and noting that no rallies can justify attacks on law enforcement officers.