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164 killed after Kazakhstan president ordered military to open fire on protesters

The Health Ministry in Kazakhstan says not less than 164 people were killed during the past week of protests in the Central Asian country.

Figures cited by state-run media also said that more than 2,200 people were injured in the violence, which saw Kazakh security forces respond with a heavy hand to anti-government protesters.

According to the ministry, 719 people were being treated in hospitals on Sunday, 83 of them in critical condition. It, however, did not state the nature of the injuries.

Demonstrations, prompted by soaring fuel prices, began a week ago in western Kazakhstan, a country bigger than Western Europe, before turning into a broader revolt against the authoritarian government.

In Almaty, the country’s largest city, the protests devolved into riots and clashes that left buildings torched and businesses looted.

A report by state television said 103 people – including two children – died in Almaty alone, while 1,100 people there sought medical help.

Following a crisis meeting on Sunday, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s office said that operations to contain the protests were continuing and described the situation as being under control.

“Measures are being taken to locate and arrest terrorists,’’ it said.

So far, almost 6,000 people have been arrested, including many foreigners, the presidential office said.

Mr Tokayev has repeatedly said the protesters, who are threatening the survival of his government, are being supported from abroad but has offered little evidence to support the claim.

On Friday, the president issued a shoot-to-kill order against protesters threatening his government’s survival.

Since the protests erupted, Mr Tokayev has dismissed the government and top leaders from the country’s Security Council, declared a state of emergency and asked a Russian-led military alliance for help.

The Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), an alliance of former Soviet states, has sent 2,500 paratroopers to Kazakhstan as part of a peacekeeping force.

 (dpa/NAN)

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