Health

Kazakhstan says Islamist radicals played role in attacks

Government
buildings in several cities were briefly captured or torched last week as
initially peaceful protests against fuel price increases became violent in the
worst bout of violence in the Central Asian nation’s post-Soviet history.

President
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sacked his cabinet, issued shoot-to-kill orders and
declared a state of emergency in the oil-rich nation of 19 million. He also
asked a Russian-led military bloc to send in troops, who the government says
have since been deployed to guard strategic objects.

Tokayev
was due to take part in a video conference of the bloc’s leaders at 0700 GMT on
Monday.

Authorities
on Monday for the first time linked the violence to what they said were members
of Islamist groups.

“As
the events in Almaty and several other regions of the country have shown,
Kazakhstan has been subjected to armed aggression by well-coordinated terrorist
groups trained abroad,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“According
to preliminary data, the attackers include individuals who have military combat
zone experience in the ranks of radical Islamist groups.”

It
did not name any specific groups.

The
National Security Committee said on Monday, an official day of mourning, that
the situation had stabilised and that security forces had restored control.

Karim
Masimov, the committee’s former head, was detained on suspicion of treason last
week, days after Tokayev dismissed him.

Russian
and state media, citing a government social media post, have reported that 164
people had been killed. Health and police authorities did not confirm that
figure, and the original social media post has been deleted.

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“I
think there was some kind of a conspiracy involving domestic and certain
foreign destructive forces,” Secretary of State Yerlan Karin told state
television on Monday, without naming any suspects.

A
former Kazakh prime minister said on Sunday that Tokayev must move fast to
consolidate his grip after appearing to break with Nursultan Nazarbayev, his
powerful predecessor.

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