Kazakhstan’s president as well as international news wires are saying that Kazakh security forces have taken control of most of the city streets in Almaty, where days of riots have raged and central government buildings have been torched. Heavy military vehicles and armaments have also been seen deployed across other major cities.
This after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered his security forces to “shoot to kill without warning” – according to Reuters and state media. He reiterated in a Friday televised address that the demonstrators and rioters will be “destroyed” as prior riot control measures have moved to “counterterrorist” operations.
This as an estimated 3,000 Russian troops are said to be on the ground as part of a joint peace-keeping mission authorized by Russian-led the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). More may be on the way.
Despite the claim that order is slowly being restored, there have still been widespread reports of gunshots ringing out over central city squares and streets, following dramatic images of the past few days showing pitched gun battles. Al Jazeera reports Friday:
The interior ministry said that 26 “armed criminals” had been “liquidated” and more than 3,000 detained since last weekend, while 18 police and national guard service members had also been killed.
Gunshots could be heard on Friday morning near the central square in the largest city, Almaty, where troops and protesters battled on previous days.
Indicators suggest the Kremlin could be mulling a larger deployment to Kazakhstan, at a moment it has many forces near eastern Ukraine.
There are likely concerns among Russian officials that the military could be “spread too thin” in too much manpower is diverted from near Ukraine, where tensions have soared over the past couple months.
On Thursday the country’s Interior Ministry cited at least 18 police and security forces were killed, with hundreds wounded and injured – though with the lack of an international media presence on the ground during the chaos, it’s been hard for monitors to confirm figures – which likely also includes dozens killed among the protesters.
Meanwhile, on Friday a widely circulating social media video indicates that organized armed insurgent groups are forming in order to fight back against the government, as well as the foreign allies such as Russian troops that are assisting.
By the hour and by the day, this continues to escalate, with Kazakhstan on the brink of a full-blown civil war led by anti-government insurgents. At the same time Moscow and Beijing are beginning to get more vocal about what they are calling a regime change “color revolution” which may have outside Western help, with the finger in particular being pointed at the US, and possibly related to Ukraine.