Russian troops return from Kazakhstan


MOSCOW (AP) — A senior law enforcement official in Kazakhstan said Saturday that 225 people had died in violent protests that rocked the country this month, a number significantly higher than previously reported.

Serik Shalabayev, head of the criminal prosecution department at the attorney general’s office, said 19 police or military were among the dead, media reported. More than 4,300 people were injured, he said.

The previous official death toll was 164.

Demonstrations began on January 2 in the oil and gas-rich Central Asian country to protest against a sharp rise in fuel prices. They quickly spread across the country, broadened into a general protest against the country’s authoritarian government and escalated into violence within days, especially in Almaty, the country’s largest city. Protesters stormed government buildings and set them on fire.

At the request of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization sent a force of over 2,000 troops, mostly Russians, to act as peacekeepers. The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday its troops had returned home, but it was unclear whether forces from other alliance countries remained in Kazakhstan.

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