Kazakhstan news: population, what its leader has said about country unrest and how many protesters have died?

Kazakhstan’s interior ministry reported that 26 protesters had been killed during the unrest

The president of Kazakhstan said he has authorised law enforcement to open fire on "terrorists".

It’s a move that comes after days of violent protests in the former Soviet nation.

Kazakhstan is experiencing the worst street protests since the country gained independence three decades ago.

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.

So, what has president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said - and what is the death toll currently?

Kazakhstan shares borders with Russia to the north and China to the east (image: NationalWorld/Mark Hall)

What did the president say about using lethal force? 

In a televised address to the nation, president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev blamed the unrest on "terrorists" and "militants" and said that he had authorised the use of lethal force against them.

"Those who don’t surrender will be eliminated," Mr Tokayev said.

He also blasted calls for talks with the protesters made by some other countries as "nonsense".

Mr Tokayev asked: "What negotiations can be held with criminals, murderers?"

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (Photo by YEVGENY BIYATOV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

What is the population size of the country?

Kazakhstan is a country, which equates to the size of western Europe.

It’s situated in Central Asia and borders on Russia, China and Uzbekistan.

Though it’s a huge country, it is mostly made up of mountains and desert-looking land with a streppe climate, essentially very hot and humid temperatures.

It has a population of 19 million people. The UK, for example, inhabits 67 million people.

Kazakhstan gained independence in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

How many protesters have been killed? 

At the time of writing, Kazakhstan’s interior ministry reported that 26 protesters had been killed during the unrest, 18 were wounded and more than 3,000 people have been detained.

A total of 18 law enforcement officers were reported killed as well, and more than 700 sustained injuries.

Protests have turned extremely violent, with government buildings set ablaze and scores of protesters and more than a dozen law enforcement officers killed.

Internet across the country has been shut down, and two airports closed, including one in Almaty, the country’s largest city.

A picture taken on January 7, 2022 shows a burnt-out administrative building in central Almaty, after violence that erupted following protests over hikes in fuel prices. -(Photo by ABDUAZIZ MADYAROV/AFP via Getty Images)

Has the president called on other countries for help?

In a concession, the government announced a 180-day price cap on vehicle fuel and a moratorium on utility rate increases.

Mr Tokayev has vacillated between trying to mollify 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 has called on a Russia-led military alliance for help.

The alliance, the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CTSO), includes the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and has started deploying troops to Kazakhstan on a peacekeeping mission.

Kazakh officials have insisted that the troops will not be fighting the demonstrators, and instead will take on guarding government institutions.

Kazakhstan’s president has rejected calls for talks with protesters after days of unprecedented unrest, vowing to destroy “armed bandits” and authorising his forces to shoot to kill without warning. (Photo by ALEXANDR BOGDANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Constitutional order ‘mainly restored’

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 "counter-terrorist actions" should be continued.

The airport will remain shut until Friday evening, local TV station Khabar 24 reported.

In other parts of the country some things started to go back to normal. In the capital, Nur-Sultan, access to the internet has been partially restored, and train traffic has been 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 3pm (9am GMT).

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