Protesters stormed the mayor’s office in Kazakhstan’s largest city Almaty on Wednesday as unprecedented unrest in the Central Asian nation spun out of control.
Sparked by a New Year energy price increase, protests swept across Kazakhstan in a rare challenge to the ex-Soviet country’s authoritarian government.
After a night of unrest that saw more than 200 people detained, several thousand protesters stormed the headquarters of the Almaty city administration on Wednesday afternoon and appeared to have seized control of the building.
Police fired stun grenades and tear gas at the crowd, some armed with batons and shields seized from police, but were unable to prevent them from entering the building.
Local media reported that parts of the building were on fire and that protesters were targeting other government facilities.
The protests are the biggest threat so far to the regime established by Kazakhstan’s founding president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who stepped down in 2019 and ushered loyalist Kassym-Jomart Tokayev into the presidency.
The demonstrations began over a New Year increase in prices for Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), which is widely used to fuel cars in the west of the country.
The interior ministry said 95 police officers were injured, adding “groups of citizens blocked roads and blocked traffic, disrupting public order”.