On Wednesday, a group of protesters broke into the main Almaty city council building. Kazakhstan’s financial capital, in the southeast, is gripped by unprecedented unrest following the rise in gas prices.
Police fired sound grenades and used tear gas at the crowd of several thousand people but could not prevent them from entering the building, a reporter from France’s AFP news agency said on the scene. Protesters used police batons and shields.
Kazakhstan news agency Tengrinews released video footage showing flames emanating from the side of the building in Almaty. Black smoke rises from the building.
Demonstrations without prior authorization are banned in Kazakhstan, an authoritarian former Soviet republic and the largest economy in Central Asia. After a price hike for liquefied natural gas in a western city, the anger started Sunday.
The protest then spread to the large regional city of Aktau on the Caspian Sea and finally to Almaty. Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Takayev, dismissed his government on Wednesday and declared a state of emergency in two regions.
According to the Interior Ministry, more than 200 people have already been arrested and 95 police officers have been injured.