NUR-SULTAN, (Kazakhstan): Violent unrest in Kazakhstan that began with peaceful protests over energy prices and caused the government to call in help from a Russian-led military bloc left 225 people dead, authorities announced Saturday, a dramatic increase on previous tolls.
“During the state of emergency, the bodies of 225 people were delivered to morgues, of which 19 were law enforcement officers and military personnel,” Serik Shalabayev, a representative of the state prosecutor, said at a briefing.
Some others were “armed bandits who participated in terrorist attacks,” Shalabayev added.
“Unfortunately, civilians have also become victims of acts of terrorism.”
Kazakhstan had previously acknowledged fewer than 50 fatalities — 26 “armed criminals” and 18 security officers in the conflict that exposed infighting at the very top of the government.
A higher death toll of 164 that appeared on an official Telegram channel last week was quickly retracted.
Asel Artakshinova, a spokeswoman for the health ministry, said that more than 2,600 people had sought treatment at hospitals, with 67 currently in a serious condition.
Authorities in Kazakhstan have blamed the violence on bandits and international “terrorists” that they said hijacked the protests that saw the epicentre of unrest move from the west to the country’s largest city Almaty.
Troops from the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organization that helped calm the violence in the Central Asian country began a gradual withdrawal on Thursday.