Kazakhstan’s President Tokayev said there would be no negotiations with protesters after days of unrest, vowing to destroy “armed bandits” who had attacked the country.
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has said he gave shoot-to-kill orders to deal with further disturbances from those he called bandits and terrorists.
In a televised address to the nation, Tokayev on Friday said that those who failed to surrender would be “destroyed.”
“Those who don’t surrender will be eliminated,” Tokayev said.
He also blasted calls for talks with the protesters made by some other countries as “nonsense.”
“What negotiations can be held with criminals, murderers?” Tokayev said.
Kazakhstan’s Interior Ministry reported on Friday 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 over 700 sustained injuries.
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.
In a concession, the government on Thursday announced a 180-day price cap on vehicle fuel and a moratorium on utility rate increases.
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 Organization, includes the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan and has started deploying troops to Kazakhstan for a peacekeeping mission.
On Friday, Tokayev declared that constitutional order was “mainly restored in all regions of the country” and that “local authorities are in control of the situation.”
Skirmishes in Almaty were still reported on Friday morning.
Russia’s state news agency Tass reported that the building occupied by the Kazakh branch of the Mir broadcaster, funded by several former Soviet states, was on fire.
Praise from China
Western countries have called for restraint on all sides and for the respect of people’s right to protest peacefully.
In a message to Tokayev, China’s President Xi Jinping praised him for taking “strong measures” and “being highly responsible for your country and your people”.
Tokayev said Almaty had been under assault from “20,000 bandits” with a “clear plan of attack, coordination of actions and high combat readiness.”
He blamed “so-called free media” and unnamed foreign figures for instigating the violence, adding: “Democracy is not permissiveness.”
Source: TRTWorld and agencies