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Kazakhstan authorities says 164 people killed in last week's protests

by The Associated Press | January 10, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
A bus, which was burned during clashes, is seen on a street in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. Kazakhstan's health ministry says 164 people have been killed in protests that have rocked the country over the past week. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's office said Sunday that order has stabilized in the country and that authorities have regained control of administrative buildings that were occupied by protesters, some of which were set on fire. (Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR.KZ via AP)

MOSCOW -- Kazakhstan authorities said Sunday that 164 people, including a 4-year-old girl, were killed in a week of protests that marked the worst unrest since the former Soviet republic gained independence 30 years ago.

The office of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said order has been restored in the Central Asian country and that the government has regained control of all buildings that were taken over by the protesters. Some of the buildings were set on fire.

Sporadic gunfire was heard Sunday in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan, according to the Russian TV station Mir-24, but it was unclear whether those were warning shots by law enforcement. Tokayev said Friday he had authorized a shoot-to-kill order for police and the military to restore order.

The demonstrations, which began in the western part of Kazakhstan, began Jan. 2. over a sharp rise in fuel prices and spread throughout the country, apparently reflecting wider discontent with the authoritarian government. They prompted a Russia-led military alliance to send troops to the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called Tokayev's order "something I resolutely reject."

"The shoot-to-kill order, to the extent it exists, is wrong and should be rescinded," he said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"And Kazakhstan has the ability to maintain law and order, to defend the institutions of the state, but to do so in a way that respects the rights of peaceful protesters and also addresses the concerns that they've raised -- economic concerns, some political concerns," Blinken added.

The same party has ruled Kazakhstan since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Anyone aspiring to oppose the government has either been repressed, sidelined, or co-opted, amid widespread economic hardship despite the country's enormous reserves of oil, natural gas, uranium and minerals.

About 5,800 people were detained during the unrest, Tokayev's office said.

The death toll of 164, reported by the state news channel Khabar-24 and citing the Health Ministry, was a significant increase from previously announced totals.

photo Russian citizens walk toward an airport to board aircrafts of the Russian Aerospace Forces leaving Kazakhstan for Moscow in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. The first three aircraft of the Aerospace Forces with the Russians flew from Kazakhstan to Moscow. Three aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces flew from Kazakhstan to Moscow together with the Russians who wished to evacuate. TASS was informed about this by a representative of the Russian peacekeepers. (AP Photo/Vasily Krestyaninov)
photo In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service,Russian peacekeepers wait to leave an airport of Almaty upon their arrival, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. As Kazakhstan struggles to cope with an increasingly violent uprising this week, it has turned for help to a Russian-led security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Thousands of Russian troops have now been dispatched to Kazakhstan to help secure strategic facilities. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
photo In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, vehicles of Russian peacekeepers leave an airport of Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. As Kazakhstan struggles to cope with an increasingly violent uprising this week, it has turned for help to a Russian-led security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Thousands of Russian troops have now been dispatched to Kazakhstan to help secure strategic facilities. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
photo A crane loads a military truck, which was burned during clashes onto the platform in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. Kazakhstan's health ministry says at least 164 people have been killed in protests that have rocked the country over the past week. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's office said Sunday that order has stabilized in the country and that authorities have regained control of administrative buildings that were occupied by protesters, some of which were set on fire. (Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR.KZ via AP)
photo A tow truck transports a bus, which was burned during clashes in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. Kazakhstan's health ministry says 164 people have been killed in protests that have rocked the country over the past week. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's office said Sunday that order has stabilized in the country and that authorities have regained control of administrative buildings that were occupied by protesters, some of which were set on fire. (Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR.KZ via AP)
photo A military truck, which was burned during clashes, is seen on a street in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. Kazakhstan's health ministry says 164 people have been killed in protests that have rocked the country over the past week. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's office said Sunday that order has stabilized in the country and that authorities have regained control of administrative buildings that were occupied by protesters, some of which were set on fire. (Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR.KZ via AP)
photo A bus, which was burned during clashes, is seen on a street in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. Kazakhstan's health ministry says 164 people have been killed in protests that have rocked the country over the past week. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's office said Sunday that order has stabilized in the country and that authorities have regained control of administrative buildings that were occupied by protesters, some of which were set on fire. (Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR.KZ via AP)
photo In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, A Russian peacekeeper looks as vehicles of Russian leave an airport of Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. As Kazakhstan struggles to cope with an increasingly violent uprising this week, it has turned for help to a Russian-led security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Thousands of Russian troops have now been dispatched to Kazakhstan to help secure strategic facilities. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)
photo In this handout photo released by Russian Defense Ministry Press Service, vehicles of Russian peacekeepers leave an airport of Almaty, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022. As Kazakhstan struggles to cope with an increasingly violent uprising this week, it has turned for help to a Russian-led security bloc, the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Thousands of Russian troops have now been dispatched to Kazakhstan to help secure strategic facilities. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

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