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18 Kazakhstan Security Officers Dead, Over 700 Wounded in Fuel Price Increase Unrest, Govt Limits Prices

Casualties among Kazakh security officers have risen to 18 dead and 748 wounded as authorities seek to quell unrest in the ex-Soviet country, Russian news agencies said, citing the Interior ministry.

Russia’s Interfax and RIA Novosti news agencies also cite the ministry as saying that 2,298 people have so far been detained after protests over fuel price hikes escalated into direct clashes with officers yesterday.

Meanwhile, to stem the unrest, the Kazakhstan government has set fuel price limits for six months.

The protests were triggered after a New Year increase in fuel prices boiled over into mass unrest.

Demonstrations spread across the Central Asian nation of 19 million this week in outrage over a price hike on liquid petroleum gas (LPG), which is widely used to fuel cars in the west of the country.

Thousands took to the streets in the oil and gas exporting country’s largest city Almaty and in the western province of Mangystau, saying the price rise was unfair given Kazakhstan’s vast energy reserves.

The protests escalated into widespread unrest on Wednesday, with demonstrators storming government buildings and dozens reportedly left dead in clashes with security officers.

“The government took urgent measures to stabilise the socio-economic situation,” Kazakhstan’s government said in a statement. 

It said it would be instituting a 180-day moratorium on price rises on LPG as well as gasoline, diesel fuel and utilities in a host of cities and provinces.

The government also temporarily banned the export of foods including beef, lamb, potatoes and carrots “to stabilise prices for socially significant food products”.

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