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Top EU official concerned about situation in Kazakhstan

 
Brussels, Jan 7 (IANS) Josep Borrell, high representative of the European Union (EU) for foreign affairs and security policy, has expressed "great concerns" about the ongoing unrest in Kazakhstan.

"Great concern about developments in Kazakhstan. The rights and security of civilians must be guaranteed. External military assistance brings back memories of situations to be avoided. EU is ready to support in addressing this crisis," Borrell said in a tweet.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, also weighed in on the situation in Kazakhstan, urging all sides to refrain from violence and to seek a peaceful resolution.

"People have the right to peaceful protest and freedom of expression. At the same time, protesters, no matter how angry or aggrieved they may be, should not resort to violence against others," Bachelet said in a statement.

The protests started on Sunday against dissatisfaction over surging fuel prices.

They escalated on Wednesday, with protesters storming the main government building in Almaty, setting police vehicles on fire, and attacking the regional branch of the ruling Nur Otan party.

Till date, 12 law enforcement officers have been killed and more than 1,000 people were injured across Kazakhstan with almost 400 of them hospitalised as a result of the violent protests.

The Interior Ministry has claimed that 2,298 protesters have also been detained.

The mounting unrest prompted the Kazakh government to seek help from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which has decided to deploy peacekeeping forces to the country.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has blamed foreign-trained "terrorists" for the unrest, without giving evidence.

--IANS
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