A patrol in the streets of Almaty on January 8, 2022Alexandr BOGDANOV
More than 5,000 people have been arrested in Kazakhstan in connection with the riots that rocked the largest country in Central Asia this week, local media reported on Sunday, citing authorities.
A total of 5,135 people were arrested in the framework of 125 separate investigations, said the interior ministry, quoted by the media.
Kazakhstan, a country of about 19 million people rich in hydrocarbons, was rocked this week by riots unprecedented since its independence in 1989, which killed dozens of people.
The protest began in the provinces last Sunday after the increase in gas prices, before reaching large cities, including the economic capital Almaty, where riots broke out, the police firing live ammunition at the demonstrators.
According to the Interior Ministry quoted by the media on Sunday, the material damage caused by the violence was initially estimated at around 175 million euros.
More than 100 businesses and banks were looted and more than 400 vehicles destroyed, according to the same source.
“Today, the situation is stabilized in all regions of the country,” said Interior Minister Erlan Tourgoumbaïev, adding, however, that “the anti-terrorist operation is continuing to restore order in the country”.
Relative calm seemed to have returned to Almaty, with police sometimes firing shots in the air to prevent residents from approaching the city’s central square, an AFP correspondent noted on Saturday.
A sign of a timid return to normal, around 30 supermarkets reopened in Almaty on Sunday, Kazakhstan media reported, amid concerns over shortages.
Long queues of vehicles have formed in particular in recent days in front of gas stations, AFP noted.
Almaty airport, which had been briefly occupied by protesters, will remain closed “until the situation stabilizes,” authorities said on Sunday. It was originally scheduled to resume its activities on Monday.