Kazakhstan president rejects talks, gives shoot-to-kill order to quell protests - GulfToday

Kazakhstan president rejects talks, gives shoot-to-kill order to quell protests


Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest in Almaty. AP

Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Friday rejected calls for talks with protesters after days of unprecedented unrest, vowing to destroy "armed bandits" and authorising his forces to shoot to kill without warning.

In a hardline address to the nation, Tokayev also gave "special thanks" to Russian President Vladimir Putin after a Moscow-led military alliance sent troops to Kazakhstan to help quell the unrest.

Security forces had blocked off strategic areas of Almaty — the country's largest city and epicentre of the recent violence — and were firing into the air if anyone approached, reporters said.

Elsewhere the city was like a ghost town, with banks, supermarkets and restaurants closed. The few small shops still open were quickly running out of food.

Tokayev said order had mostly been restored across the country, after protests this week over fuel prices escalated into widespread violence.

Kazakhstan-president President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (C) holds a meeting at the counter-terrorism headquarters in Alamaty. AFP

"Terrorists continue to damage property... and use weapons against civilians. I have given the order to law enforcement to shoot to kill without warning," Tokayev said in his third televised address this week. He ridiculed calls from abroad for negotiations as "nonsense." "We are dealing with armed and trained bandits, both local and foreign. With bandits and terrorists. So they must be destroyed. This will be done shortly."

The violence erupted late on Tuesday, when police fired tear gas and stun grenades at a thousands-strong protest in Almaty. The next day protesters stormed government buildings including the city administration headquarters and presidential residence, setting them ablaze.

The interior ministry said 26 "armed criminals" had been killed in the unrest. It said 18 security officers had been killed and more than 740 wounded, and more than 3,800 people detained.

Kazakhstan-protest Demonstrators hold posters during a rally outside the Kyrgyz parliament building in Bishkek  during a protest against Kazakhstan. AFP

The numbers could not be independently verified and there was no official information about casualties among civilian bystanders. The full picture of the chaos has often been unclear, with widespread disruptions to communications including mobile phone signals and hours-long internet shutdowns.

Most flights into the country have been cancelled, and Russian news agencies quoted Almaty airport officials saying it would be closed to all but military flights until Sunday.

Western countries have called for restraint on all sides and for the respect of people's right to protest peacefully. China's President Xi Jinping however praised Tokayev for taking "strong measures."

Tokayev said Almaty had been under assault from "20,000 bandits" with a "clear plan of attack, coordination of actions and high combat readiness."

He blamed "so-called free media" and unnamed foreign figures for instigating the violence, adding: "Democracy is not permissiveness."

Tanks-militaryvehicles An aerial view of Russian military vehicles waiting for loading to a cargo plane to depart to Kazakhstan at the airport of Ivanovo. AFP

Tokayev on Wednesday declared a nationwide state of emergency and appealed for help from the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO).

Russia's defence ministry said nine planes carrying paratroopers and hardware had landed in Almaty and Russian forces had helped to secure the airport.

Agence France-Presse


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