Authorities in Kazakhstan said at least 164 people, including three children, were killed during violent anti-government protests in the past week.
According to the Kazakh Health Ministry, 103 of the deaths were in Almaty, the largest city and the center of the violence.
The protests initially began due to a hike in fuel prices, but it has expanded to include wider public anger on the government over corruption, living standards, and unemployment, according to reports.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave a shoot-to-kill order on Jan. 7, calling protesters as “bandits and terrorists.”
Kazakh state media, citing the Internal Affairs Ministry, reported that authorities arrested more than 5,000 people for alleged participation in the protests.
High-profile officials are among those detained, including Karim Massimov, the former head of the National Security Committee, on suspicion of treason.
State media also reported that the police launched around 125 criminal cases related to violent incidents, including charges of robbery and murder.
Deputy Defense Minister Sultan Gamaletdinov said on Jan. 9 that a “counterterrorist operation” would continue “until the terrorists are completely eliminated and the constitutional order is restored in the Republic of Kazakhstan.”
The numbers came after the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) deployed Russian-led troops to quell the protests at the request of Tokayev.
CSTO Commander General Andrey Serdyukov said at a press briefing on Jan. 9 that its Russian-led troops “are now completely operational” in Kazakhstan.
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