Russia sent paratroopers into Kazakhstan on Thursday to help put down a violent nationwide uprising that has led to the deaths of scores of demonstrators and more than a dozen police officers, as well as government buildings being stormed and set ablaze.
The protesters, carrying clubs and shields, set a presidential residence and the mayor’s office on fire in Almaty, the country’s largest city. Burned-out cars lined the streets in the worst unrest since Kazakhstan gained its independence from the Soviet Union three decades ago.
Security forces wrested control of Almaty’s airport from protesters Thursday.
Police said they killed dozens of rioters, and state television said 13 security officers were killed — including two who were found decapitated — and 353 injured, according to reports.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev blamed the unrest on “terrorist bands,” called on a Russian-led military alliance for help, and vowed that the rioters would be dealt with harshly.