Kazakhstan: Almaty Hospital Employee Recalls Armed Attack Against Healthcare Facility During Riots
Earlier in January, Kazakhstan was hard hit by a wave of protests against a hike in gas prices, which quickly turned into deadly clashes between armed rioters and police, clashes that claimed the lives of at least 18 security officers.
An employee from Hospital No. 7 in the former Kazakh capital of Almaty
has provided the details about an attack on the healthcare facility on Thursday, after protests against a hike in fuel prices turned violent in the Central Asian country.
"On 6 January, armed rioters broke into Hospital No. 7 in Almaty, which is located in the Kalkaman District, and demanded that doctors provide aid to the wounded criminals. The militants fired on the third floor, where an intensive care unit is located. Fortunately, none of the patients or employees of the hospital was injured", the employee, whose name was not revealed, told Sputnik.
They added that after the rioters left the hospital, staff contacted law enforcement agencies and told them about the incident. On 7 January, the wounded gunmen were apprehended by riot policemen who then took them away. The hospital is expected to resume operating on Saturday evening.
On Thursday, Kazakh state television reported that armed rioters had surrounded two large hospitals in Almaty, preventing patients and doctors from entering and endangering people's lives. The facilities were identified as multi-profile clinical hospitals No. 1 and No. 7.
The employee's comments come as Sergei Lebedev, the chairman of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), argued that those involved in the violent unrest in Kazakhstan had prepared for the riots in advance and had foreign backing.
"It is obvious today that the bandits were preparing for mass rallies in advance to destabilise the country and that they had foreign support", Lebedev said, praising the Kazakh authorities' "timely and reasonable" decisions to stabilise the situation in the country.
According to him, "those measures were supported not only by the CSTO [the Collective Security Treaty Organisation] but by other members of the Commonwealth [CIS]".
The CIS hopes that the situation in the Kazakh city of Almaty will return to normal in the next few weeks, which will make it possible to organise CIS events there, Lebedev said.
Protests against a two-fold increase in gas prices in Kazakhstan quickly turned into deadly armed clashes between law enforcement officers and rioters in several regions of the former Soviet republic.
The first contingent of CSTO peacekeeping forces
arrived in Kazakhstan on Thursday to help local law enforcement forces protect major state and military facilities, as well as stabilise the security situation in the country, helping the crisis-hit nation return to normalcy.