Former anti-terrorism chief held as Kazakhstan cracks down on unrest

i24NEWS

2 min read
Protesters attend a rally in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, on January 4, 2022.
Abduaziz Madyarov/AFPProtesters attend a rally in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, on January 4, 2022.

Authorities say security forces killed 26 demonstrators in this week’s unrest

Kazakhstan said Saturday its former anti-terrorism chief was arrested for suspected treason, as the former Soviet republic cracks down on a wave of unrest and starts to assign blame.

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The detention of Karim Massimov was announced by the National Security Committee which he headed until he was fired by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Wednesday after violent protests swept across the Central Asian nation.

Authorities say security forces killed 26 demonstrators in this week’s unrest and that 18 law-enforcement officers died. More than 4,400 people were arrested, the Interior Ministry said Saturday.

Tokayev's office said he had told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call that the situation was stabilizing.

"At the same time, hotbeds of terrorist attacks persist. Therefore, the fight against terrorism will continue with full determination," it quoted him as saying.

The Kremlin said Putin backed Tokayev's idea to convene a video call of leaders from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), under whose umbrella Russia and four other former Soviet republics sent troops into Kazakhstan to help restore order.  

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