Kazakhstan’s death toll rises to 164 in violent protests

(CNN) — At least 164 people have died and more than 5,000 were arrested during the violent riots in Kazakhstan this week, as unrest swept through the country and the death toll rose further.

The deadly protests that erupted in the Central Asian country in recent days have seen the government resign and the declaration of a state of emergency when troops from a Russian-led military alliance were deployed to help contain the unrest.

The death toll, a significant increase from Friday’s count of 44, was announced on Sunday on state television channel Khabar 24, citing the Kazakhstan Ministry of Health.

The riots are the biggest challenge yet for the autocratic government of Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, with initial public anger over a spike in fuel prices expanding to broader discontent with the government over corruption, the Living standards, poverty and unemployment in the oil-rich country, a former Soviet nation, report human rights organizations.

So far, at least 5,135 people have been detained for alleged involvement in the Kazakhstan protests, Kazakh state media reported on Sunday, citing the country’s Interior Ministry. Meanwhile, the police have opened about 125 criminal cases related to incidents of violence, including charges of violence, murder, robbery, state media reported.

CNN has not been able to verify the government’s claims.

The “peacekeeping” forces of the member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) have been fully deployed in Kazakhstan and are now fully operational within the country, CSTO Commander General Andrey said on Sunday. Sedyukov, at a press conference.

The CSTO, which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, deployed forces following an appeal by Tokayev for help from the alliance after unrest broke out in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, including the largest city, Almaty.

Unrest in the country has led to the destruction of buildings and property.

Kazakh law enforcement officers are seen at a barricade during a protest sparked by rising fuel prices in Almaty on January 5.

Sedyukov said the forces “carry out tasks to protect important military, state and socially significant facilities in the city of Almaty and the adjacent area”, and will remain in the country until the situation is “completely stabilized”.

High-profile officials, including the former head of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee, Karim Massimov, have been detained on suspicion of treason, state media report.

The European Union has made it clear that it “strongly condemns” the widespread acts of violence in Kazakhstan and that external military support “must respect the sovereignty and independence” of the country, said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, on Saturday. it’s a statement.

“We deeply regret the loss of life and strongly condemn the widespread acts of violence,” he said.

“External military support must respect the sovereignty and independence of Kazakhstan, as well as the fundamental rights of all citizens,” he added.

CNN’s Radina Gigova, Zahra Ullah, Arnaud Siad and Olga Pavlova contributed to this report.

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Kazakhstan’s death toll rises to 164 in violent protests