President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has given the army and police permission to use lethal force against protestors, who he described as “bandits and terrorists”.
Tensions in Kazakhstan rise as hopes of a peaceful solution dwindle.
In a televised broadcast on Friday, Tokayev said:
“The militants have not laid down their arms, they continue to commit crimes or are preparing for them. The fight against them must be pursued to the end. Whoever does not surrender will be destroyed.”
“I have given the order to law enforcement agencies and the army to shoot to kill without warning.”
“Abroad there are calls for the two sides to hold negotiations for a peaceful resolution. What idiocy. What kind of negotiations can you have with criminals? We were dealing with armed and well-prepared bandits, both local and foreign. Bandits and terrorists, who should be destroyed. This will happen in the nearest time.”
The Kazakhstan interior ministry claims that 26 “armed criminals” have been “liquidated” so far amidst the unrest, with more than 3000 detained. The ministry claims 18 police and national guard servicemen have been killed since the protests began.
Tokayev thanked the other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation for the peacekeeping forces they sent to reinforce the Kazakhstan government, but stated that those troops had not taken part in any of the fighting.
A spokesperson for the UK government issued the following statement on Thursday:
“We are concerned by the violent clashes in Kazakhstan in recent days and are following developments closely. We call for calm and we condemn acts of violence and the destruction of property and buildings. We also call for a resumption of internet services and for the Kazakh authorities to respect their commitments to freedom of speech and expression.”
“Protests should be peaceful and law enforcement responses proportionate and in line with Kazakhstan’s international commitments. The UK has a close relationship with Kazakhstan and it is important that Kazakhstan’s sovereignty is respected. The UK encourages a peaceful resolution through engagement between the authorities and civil society.”