Kazakh President Kashim-Jomart Tokayev said today (Friday) that he has ordered the military and law enforcement agencies to usedeadly forceagainst terrorists and open fire without warning.

According to him, at least 20,000 armed people attacked Alma Ata. He said that the armed protesters were trained and coordinated by a centre and that the terrorists would be eliminated if they refused to surrender.

At the same time, according to figures released by the Kazakh authorities, several members of the national guard have been killed and more than 200 injured amid the violent protests that have rocked the country in recent days.

The Kazakh Interior Ministry, in a separate press release, said that 26armed criminalswere killed and over 3,000 arrested, while 18 police officers and members of the national guard have died in the ranks of the security forces since the protests began. Tokayev will address the nation today, state television reported.

In Alma Ata, the largest city and economic capital of the country, where the riots were the most violent, “the law enforcement forces and the armed and related forces are guaranteeing public order, protecting strategic infrastructure and cleaning the streets, also says the Ministry of the Interior, which yesterday, Thursday, had announced that the number of wounded in the ranks of the security forces was 748.

The forces of class are working hard. Constitutional order has been largely restored in all regions of the country,” the president said in a statement, adding that operations to restore law and order would continue “until the complete destruction of the militants.

The local institutions are in control of the situation, but the terrorists are still using weapons and causing damage to citizensproperty,” he said.

Forces from Russia and other countries allied to Moscow arrived in Kazakhstan yesterday, Thursday, to support the authorities, who have been dealing for days with mass protests that have erupted due to the rise in fuel prices, leading to scenes of chaos, especially in Almaty.

The violent incidents, in which dozens of people died and more than a thousand were injured, continued yesterday, Thursday, as gunshots were heard in the city centre, which indicated that there were clashes. This morning Reuters correspondents saw armoured personnel carriers and military personnel in the main square of Alma Ata, where yesterday soldiers opened fire on protesters.

A few hundred metres away, Reuters correspondents saw a body in a badly damaged car. Also in another part of the city they saw a looted shop which had previously been selling ammunition. They reported that in another square in Almaty they also saw military vehicles and about 100 uniformed military personnel.

Kazakh police said that two of the dead policemen were found decapitated. It is very likely that the number of dead protesters is much higher. Hundreds of civilians may have lost their lives. According to reports, soldiers fired indiscriminately at demonstrators and cars.

Opponents complained that the state used organised crime gangs against them. The material damage is also incalculable. The crowd turned furiously against state buildings, and there were many cases of looting in banks and shops. Thousands of cars were also destroyed, abandoned to the flames. The Internet was shut down across the country, making it impossible to relay the images.