Harrowing Videos Show Russian Gunfire, Kazakh Government Collapsing, Mass Protests

(Photo by ALEXANDER BOGDANOV/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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Widespread violence and destruction broke out in Kazakhstan Wednesday and Thursday, where rioters have forced the resignation of the government and injured hundreds of police officers and security forces.

Footage flooding out of the country shows demonstrators charging police lines, kicking and punching riot shields, gathering weapons and detaining members of the military. Russian troops have been deployed in an attempt to suppress the riots, but at least 18 members of Kazakh security forces have been killed. Two were reportedly beheaded. (REPORT: Police In Kazakhstan Say 12 Officers Killed, One Beheaded During Extremely Violent Protest)

In one video, citizens can be seen kicking and pushing detained military members. Another shows dozens of burned and destroyed cars and buildings, including the presidential residence and the mayor’s office in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city.

The protests reportedly began when a fuel price cap was lifted on New Year’s Day, resulting in the price of fuel doubling. Demonstrators have cited economic strife as reason for the backlash against the government, while Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev blamed foreign-trained terrorists. Police said they killed dozens of rioters in Almaty.

Tokayev called upon the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to intervene and put down the protests. CSTO consists of Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Those troops began entering the country Thursday. Some can reportedly be seen opening fire in city streets in one video, while another shows Russian armored vehicles traversing the snowy Kazakh landscape.

A statue of Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, was reportedly toppled in Almaty.