Nearly 1,700 more people arrested over recent protests in Kazakhstan

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Kazakh police block the road to control the traffic in Almaty.
Kazakh police block the road to control the traffic in Almaty.   -  Copyright  AP Photo

Kazakh authorities said they have detained 1,678 more people over their alleged participation in last week's violent unrest.

Officials in Almaty -- the country’s largest city that was hit the hardest by protests -- announced the new arrests on Wednesday.

In total, more than 12,000 have now been detained, while more than 300 criminal investigations have been launched for mass unrest and assaults on police officers.

The violence that rocked the former Soviet country was the worst since Kazakhstan gained independence in 1991.

Protests over soaring fuel prices erupted on January 2 and quickly spread across the country amid wider discontent with the country’s authoritarian government.

Kazakh authorities attempted to quell the protests by announcing a six-month cap on fuel prices, but dozens of civilians and law enforcement officers were killed in the clashes.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has blamed the unrest on foreign-backed “terrorists” and had requested support from a Russia-led military alliance. Around 2,500 troops will start withdrawing from the country on Thursday now that the situation has stabilised.

Tokayev visited Almaty on Wednesday for the first time since the deadly riots and promised to repair the damage.

"The task now is to rebuild the city in the shortest possible time ... I have no doubt that the city will be restored," he said at a government meeting.

According to local media, the Kazakh President also met with relatives of law enforcement officers killed during the riots and visited injured people receiving treatment in hospital.

Almaty's airport -- which was briefly seized during the unrest -- is due to resume service on Thursday for domestic and international flights, according to Kazakhstan's Civil Aviation Committee.