Police fired tear gas and stun grenades in a bid to break up an unprecedented thousands-strong march in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, after protests that began over fuel prices threatened to spiral out of control.
The police opened fire after the protesters refused to disperse, two AFP journalists reported, estimating there were more than 5,000 protesters present.
Messenger apps Telegram, Signal and Whatsapp were down in Kazakhstan late on Tuesday as thousands took to the streets in cities across the oil-rich country to voice discontent over prices and the government.
Protests were staged in cities in the country from Sunday, beginning with the western town of Zhanaozen, where 16 people died after government forces put down an oil strike in 2011.
The initial cause of the protest was a spike in prices for compressed gas in the country’s western energy heartland but a government move to lower the prices in line with the protesters’ demands has failed to calm them.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev tweeted late on Tuesday that authorities had taken a decision to lower prices for Liquified Petroeum Gas in the Western Mangystau region “in order to ensure stability in the country.”