| 1 March 2024, Friday |

Kazakhstan says Islamist radicals played role in attacks

On Monday, Kazakhstan stated that foreign-trained Islamist extremists were among those who attacked government buildings and security personnel last week, and that police had detained about 8,000 people to bring the situation under control.

Last week, government facilities in numerous cities were briefly occupied or destroyed as originally peaceful rallies over gasoline price rises turned violent in the Central Asian nation’s worst post-Soviet history.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev dissolved his government, issued kill-or-be-killed orders, and declared a state of emergency in the 19-million-strong oil-rich country. He also requested troops from a Russian-led military alliance, which the administration claims have subsequently been sent to secure vital assets.

Tokayev was scheduled to participate in a video conference with the bloc’s leaders on Monday at 0700 GMT.

Authorities linked the violence to members of Islamist organizations for the first time on Monday.

“As events in Almaty and other parts of the country have demonstrated, Kazakhstan has been exposed to armed attack by well-coordinated terrorist organizations trained overseas,” the foreign ministry stated in a statement.

“Preliminary information indicates that the attackers include individuals with military conflict zone experience in the ranks of extreme Islamist organisations.”

It made no mention of any specific organizations.

On Monday, an official day of mourning, the National Security Committee stated that the situation had stabilized and that security personnel had regained control.

Karim Masimov, the committee’s previous leader, was arrested last week on accusations of treason, only days after Tokayev fired him.

According to Russian and official media, 164 people were murdered, citing a government social media post. The amount was not confirmed by health or police officials, and the original social media post was removed.

“I believe there was some type of plot combining internal and some international negative forces,” State Secretary Yerlan Karin said on state television on Monday, without identifying any suspects.

A former Kazakh prime minister told Reuters on Sunday that Tokayev must act quickly to secure his position after appearing to break with his strong predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

  • Reuters