After days of violence, security forces looked to have recaptured the streets of Kazakhstan’s capital, Almaty, on Friday, and the president declared he had ordered his troops to shoot to kill in order to put down a nationwide rebellion.
Police were patrolling the debris-strewn streets of Almaty a day after Moscow ordered paratroopers to help quell the insurgency, though gunshots could still be heard.
Hundreds of people have died, and public buildings around Kazakhstan have been looted and set ablaze in the country’s 30 years of independence.
The uprising, according to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, was caused by foreign-trained terrorists.
In a televised address, he declared, “The militants have not laid down their arms; they continue to commit crimes or are prepared to perpetrate crimes.”
“Anyone who refuses to surrender will be destroyed.” I’ve given the command to fire to kill without warning to law enforcement and the army.”
More than 70 planes are ferrying Russian troops into Kazakhstan, according to Moscow, and these are now assisting in the management of Almaty’s main airport, which was reclaimed from demonstrators on Thursday.
Demonstrations against the government and ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, the longest-serving ruler of any former Soviet state, began as a response to a fuel price hike and have grown into a broad movement against the government and ex-leader.
He handed up the presidency to Tokayev three years ago, but his family is thought to still wield power in Nur-Sultan, the purpose-built capital bearing his name.