More than 5,000 arrested, 164 people killed since Kazakhstan protests erupted a week ago

Dozens have been killed in days of demonstrations in the energy-rich Central Asian state

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More than 5,000 people have been arrested in Kazakhstan over the riots that have shaken the country in the past week, Kazakh authorities have said.

Kazakhstan’s health ministry said 164 people were killed in protests that have rocked the country over the past week.

In total, 5,135 people have been detained for questioning as part of 125 investigations into the unrest, the interior ministry told local media on Sunday.

The sharp rise sparked unrest a week ago in western provincial areas that quickly reached major cities.

Riots erupted in Almaty, the former capital, and police opened fire using live rounds.

About 19 million people live in the energy-rich ex-Soviet state, Central Asia’s largest country.

The interior ministry, quoted on Sunday by local media, said initial estimates put property damage at about €175 million ($198m).

More than 100 businesses and banks were attacked and looted and more than 400 vehicles destroyed, the ministry said.

A police officer escorts a group of detained protesters in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Jan.  6, 2022.  Vladimir Tretyakov/NUR. KZ via AP

“Today the situation is stabilised in all regions of the country,” Interior Minister Erlan Turgumbayev said.

But he also said: “The counter-terror operation is continuing in a bid to re-establish order in the country.”

There is no evidence that the riots are related to terrorism.

A relative calm appeared to return to Almaty, with police sometimes firing shots into the air to stop people approaching its central square, an AFP correspondent said on Saturday.

Updated: January 09, 2022, 12:00 PM