Russian troops fly into Kazakhstan after local security forces kill dozens of protesters

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“Last night, extremist forces tried to assault administrative buildings, the Almaty city police department, as well as local police commissariats. Dozens of assailants were eliminated,” police spokesman Saltanat Azirbek was quoted as saying by the Interfax-Kazakhstan, Tass and Ria Novosti news agencies.

Videos on social media on Thursday showed pillaged shops and burned buildings in Almaty, automatic gunfire in the streets and residents screaming in fear.

Anti-government protests, which started in West Kazakhstan after a spike in fuel prices, have rocked the country this week, forcing the resignation of the government and the unloved elite to flee. 

The growing unrest is presenting a major challenge to the authoritarian regime of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and has raised international concern, especially with key ally Moscow.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, Kazakhstan’s president for 28 years, quit as head of the Kazakh Security Council and was reportedly preparing to leave the country.

President Tokayev, Mr Nazarbayev’s handpicked successor, has vowed to remain.

Russian airborne troops flown in

On Wednesday, President Tokayev asked the CSTO, which is led by the Kremlin, to intervene against what he called “terrorist groups” that had “received extensive training abroad”.

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