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5 Jan, 2022 08:44

Protesters storm govt building in Kazakhstan’s largest city

Energy price hikes have prompted widespread civil unrest across the Central Asian nation

Protests against energy price hikes in Kazakhstan have escalated on Wednesday, with an angry crowd storming the mayor’s office in Almaty. In another major city, Aktobe, demonstrators have taken over the administration building.

Clashes resumed in the center of Almaty early in the day, with a crowd of some 3,000 gathering outside the mayoral facility. 

The protesters, many of them armed with bats and other objects, began storming the building. Law enforcement responded with flashbang grenades and other methods of crowd control. However, it wasn’t enough to hold off the demonstrators, who eventually made it inside.

Several officers were reportedly beaten up in the fracas, with rioters seizing their helmets and shields.

There have been riots elsewhere in the city, with reports of fires at the prosecutor's office and at the local branch of the ruling Nur Otan party.

Meanwhile, health authorities have blamed  protestors for disrupting the work of ambulances and attacking hospital. They claimed that at least five emergency response crew members – both drivers and doctors – have been wounded.

A video emerged on social media of an injured police officer being evacuated from the scene by his colleagues. According to the author of the clip, the officer was shot by a firearm used by one of the protesters

Videos from Aktobe – a city of half a million in the west of the country, not far from the Russian border – captured a large crowd ascending the steps of the city’s administration building unhindered by the police.

Earlier unconfirmed reports claimed the officers had refused to arrest the demonstrators and had said they were in solidarity with the people.

Around a thousand protesters demonstrated in Aktobe, according to local media estimates.