Russia claims outside forces are behind chaos
Dozens of demonstrators have been reported dead in Kazakhstan as protests turned to bloodshed Thursday and Russia sent in paratroopers in a dangerous bid to crush the uprising.
Gunfire erupted anew Thursday afternoon in the main square in the largest city, Almaty, according to local reports, with TASS news agency citing witnesses to report multiple deaths.
The flare-up comes after police in the city said “dozens of attackers were liquidated” overnight as they tried to storm government buildings, referring to demonstrators. The local police chief was quoted in local media calling the protesters “extremists and radicals.”
State TV reported that more than a dozen members of law enforcement were dead, two of whom were said to have been decapitated, according to Reuters. At least 2,000 people have reportedly been arrested.
Banks have been shut down across the nation, flights into the country have been halted, and residents inside Almaty have been cut off from the rest of the world as the internet was shut off, making the full extent of the chaos unclear.
Video posted by a local blogger showed the mayor’s office ablaze, along with a nearby prosecutor’s office, both of which lit up the sky as gunfire and sirens could be heard in the background.
Russia’s foreign ministry urged any citizens in Kazakhstan to remain indoors and claimed outside forces were behind the chaos.
“We view the recent events in a friendly country as an attempt, inspired from the outside, to undermine the security and integrity of the state by force, using trained and organized armed formations,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement, echoing rhetoric frequently used by the Kremlin to claim popular protests are actually Western-led attempts to destabilize the region. –Reuters