A police car burning outside Almaty airport in Kazakhstan after rioters attacked the airport on 5 January 2021.(Photo credit: AP)
The President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has said that gangs backed by foreign nations are behind the violence that has engulfed the central Asian nation since 2 January.
In a televised address to the nation on 6 January, Tokayev stated that “terrorist groups which received extensive training abroad” have attacked a number of public institutions, including the international airport in Almaty, the largest city in the country.
He said that “Almaty was attacked, destroyed, vandalized, and the residents of Almaty became victims of attacks by terrorists and bandits. It is therefore our duty to take all possible actions to protect our state.”
According to local media reports, a group of rioters attacked and destroyed five planes after they overpowered airport security.
?? This is What happened at the #Almaty Airport. pic.twitter.com/0IhdUrt8lw
— ɨռȶ3ʟ_ɢֆ (@1nt3l_GS_N3ws) January 5, 2022
The interior ministry of the country has said that at least 12 police officers have been killed by the rioters, including two who were killed while on an operation to end the siege of the airport.
One of the police officers was beheaded by the rioters.
Sputnik reported that several people died when they tried to take over the police headquarters in Almaty on the evening of 5 January.
The rioters also attacked and torched the presidential palace and the office of the mayor.
On 5 January, the president declared a nationwide state of emergency and requested assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a security coalition made up of Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
A few hours later, the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, who is the current chairman of the CSTO, announced that the request by the government of Kazakhstan had been approved and that the coalition will deploy security forces to help restore order in that country.
The riots first broke out in the city of Zhanaozen over an increase in the price of liquefied petroleum gas. They later spread to other parts of the country. Police say “violent extremist groups” have infiltrated the riots.
The chairperson of the CSTO has also said that there is evidence that the riots are being influenced by the some “external forces.”
The riots bear a striking resemblance to the violence instigated by western-backed groups in 2011 in Syria and Libya in order to trigger military attacks on the two countries by the US-led NATO alliance with the aim of imposing puppet administrations.
In both countries, the rioters attacked government buildings and security forces. NATO then launched attacks on the countries, allegedly to protect civilians.