Kazakhstan's President has authorised security personnel to open fire on "terrorists" and shoot to kill, a move that came after days of extremely violent protests in the former Soviet nation.
- President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev blamed the ongoing unrest on "terrorists" and "militants"
- The Interior Ministry reported 26 protesters had been killed and more than 3,000 have been detained
- Government buildings have been set ablaze and more than a dozen security personnel have been killed
In a televised address to the nation, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev blamed the unrest on "terrorists" and "militants" and said he had authorised the use of lethal force.
"The militants have not laid down their arms, they continue to commit crimes or are preparing for them. The fight against them must be pursued to the end. Whoever does not surrender will be destroyed," Mr Tokayev said.
"I have given the order to law enforcement agencies and the army to shoot to kill without warning."
"Those who don't surrender will be eliminated."
He also blasted calls made by some other countries for talks with the protesters as "nonsense".
"What negotiations can be held with criminals, murderers?" Mr Tokayev asked.
Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry reported that 26 protesters were killed during the unrest, 18 were wounded, and more than 3,000 were detained.
Eighteen security personnel were reportedly killed, and over 700 sustained injuries.
Kazakhstan is experiencing the worst street protests since the country gained independence three decades ago.
Kazakhstan's President (left) dismissed calls for talks with protesters.(AP: Yevgeny Biyatov)
The demonstrations began over a near-doubling of prices for a type of vehicle fuel and quickly spread across the country, reflecting wider discontent over the rule of the same party since independence.
Internet across the country has been shut down, and two airports closed, including one in Almaty, the country's largest city.
Russia-led military alliance called in to help Kazakh officials say a Russia-led alliance is being brought in to protect government buildings.(AP: Yan Blagov)
In a concession, the government on Thursday announced a 180-day price cap on vehicle fuel and a moratorium on utility rate increases.
Mr Tokayev has vacillated between trying to appease the protesters, including accepting the resignation of his government, and promising harsh measures to quell the unrest, which he blamed on "terrorist bands".
In what was seen as one such measure, the President called on a Russia-led military alliance for help.
The alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), includes the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and has started deploying troops to Kazakhstan for a peacekeeping mission.
Protests started over anger about fuel prices.(AP: Vladimir Tretyakov)
Kazakh officials insisted the troops would not be fighting the demonstrators and instead would guard government institutions.
On Friday, Mr Tokayev declared that constitutional order was "mainly restored in all regions of the country" and that "local authorities are in control of the situation".
The President added, however, that "terrorists are still using weapons and are damaging people's property" and that "counterterrorist actions" should be continued.
A return to normal in some parts of the country
Skirmishes in Almaty were still reported on Friday morning.
Russia's state news agency reported that the building occupied by the Kazakh branch of the Mir broadcaster, funded by several former Soviet states, was on fire.
There were still some clashes in Almaty on Friday.(AP: Vladimir Tretyakov)
However, the Almaty airport — stormed and seized earlier by the protesters — was back under the control of Kazakh security personnel and CSTO peacekeepers, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said.
The airport will remain shut until Friday evening, local TV station Khabar 24 reported, citing the airport's spokespeople.
In other parts of the country, the situation began to return to normal.
In the capital, Nur-Sultan, access to the internet was partially restored and train traffic resumed across Kazakhstan.
The airport in the capital is operating as usual, Khabar 24 reported.
According to the TV channel, airlines will resume domestic flights to the cities of Shymkent, Turkestan and Atyrau, as well as flights to Moscow and Dubai, starting from 3:00pm (local time).
Demonstrations have spread into discontent about the government.(AP: Vladimir Tretyakov)