Thousands detained after Kazakhstan unrest

More than 5,000 people have been arrested in Kazakhstan over the riots that have shaken Central Asia’s largest country in the last week, Kazakh authorities were quoted as saying Sunday. A total of 164 people, including two children, were killed during the riots, Russia’s Sputnik news agency cited the health ministry as saying on Sunday.

In total, 5,135 people have been detained for questioning as part of 125 separate investigations into the unrest, according to the interior ministry quoted by local media.

The health ministry also said on Sunday that 103 people had died in Kazakhstan’s main city of Almaty, where the worst of the violence took place.

The energy-rich country of around 19 million people has been rocked by a week of riots with dozens killed.

Fuel price rises sparked the unrest a week ago in western provincial areas but they quickly reached large cities, including the economic hub Almaty, where riots erupted and police opened fire using live rounds.

The interior ministry, quoted Sunday by local media, said initial estimates put property damage at around €175 million ($198 million).

More than 100 businesses and banks were attacked and looted and more than 400 vehicles destroyed, the ministry was quoted as saying.

“Today the situation is stabilised in all regions of the country,” Interior Minister Erlan Turgumbayev said, adding nonetheless that “the counter-terror operation is continuing in a bid to re-establish order in the country”.

A relative calm appeared to return to Almaty, with police sometimes firing shots into the air to stop people approaching the city’s central square, an AFP correspondent said Saturday.