(CNN) – At least 164 people have been killed and more than 5,000 arrested during violence in Kazakhstan this week as unrest spread across the country and the death toll rose further.
The government resigned and declared a state of emergency when the Russian-led military alliance’s troops were stopped in the wake of deadly protests in Central Asia in recent days.
The death toll, a significant increase from 44 on Friday, was announced on Sunday on the state television channel Kabar 24, citing the Kazakh Ministry of Health.
The riots are the biggest challenge to the authoritarian government of Kazakh President Qasim-Jomar Tokaye, and early public anger over rising fuel prices is spreading widespread dissatisfaction with the government over corruption, living standards, poverty and oil unemployment. Rich country, a former Soviet country, human rights organizations report.
Kazakh state media on Sunday quoted the Interior Ministry as saying that at least 5,135 people have been detained so far in connection with the protests in Kazakhstan. Meanwhile, state media have reported that police have opened 125 criminal cases related to violent incidents including violence, murder and robbery.
CNN could not verify the government’s claims.
CSTO Commander-in-Chief Andrei said on Sunday that “peacekeeping” forces of member states of the Joint Security Agreement (CSTO) were fully stationed in Kazakhstan and were now fully operational within the country.
The CSTO, which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, sent troops following Tokyo’s request for coalition assistance, including the largest city, Almaty, following the outbreak of unrest in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.
Chediukov said the forces were “carrying out missions to protect important military, state and socially important facilities in and around the city of Almaty” and that the situation would remain “in the country until it is fully stabilized.”
State media have reported that top officials, including former head of Kazakhstan’s National Security Council Karim Massimov, have been detained on treason charges.
EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borel said on Saturday that the EU had made it clear that it “strongly condemns” the widespread violence in Kazakhstan and that foreign military support should “respect the sovereignty and independence of the country.” That is a statement.
“We deeply regret the loss of life and strongly condemn the widespread acts of violence,” he said.
“Foreign military support must respect the sovereignty and independence of Kazakhstan and the fundamental rights of all citizens,” he added.
CNN’s Radina Kikova, Zahra Ullah, Arnaud Siad and Olga Pavlova contributed to the report.
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