At least 13 law enforcement officials died in Almaty and 353 people were injured, state-run Khabar 24 TV reported.
More than 1,000 people in different regions were injured as a result of the turmoil. Of these, almost 400 were hospitalized, with 62 people in intensive care, the Ministry of Health said, according to Khabar 24.
There were overnight attempts to storm administrative buildings, Almaty’s police department and the district directorates, and “dozens of attackers were liquidated,” Almaty police department representative, Saltanat Azirbek, told Khabar 24.
Azirbek urged people to stay at home as an “anti-terrorist operation” was carried out on Thursday “in the square of Masanchi, Karasai Batyr-Zhambyl and Baitursynov streets, at the location of three administrative buildings.”
Gunshots and screaming were heard in footage of the overnight clashes in Almaty.
The city police department told Khabar 24 that weapons had been stolen from a gun store. State-run Khabar 24 also reported the bodies of two officers were found beheaded, citing the commandant’s office of Almaty.
This comes after Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appealed for the help of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) — which includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — on Wednesday following days of protests across the country over spiking fuel prices.
The demonstrations are the biggest challenge to autocratic Tokayev’s rule, with initial public anger over a rise in fuel prices expanding to wider discontent with the government over corruption, living standards, poverty and unemployment in the oil-rich, former Soviet nation, according to human rights organizations.
The CSTO said Thursday its “peacekeeping contingent” had begun to fulfil its tasks in the country, adding that Russian forces were being transferred to Kazakhstan by military aircraft.
“The main tasks of the Collective Peacekeeping Forces of the CSTO will be the protection of important government and military facilities, assistance to the forces of law and order of the Republic of Kazakhstan in stabilizing the situation and returning it to the legal field,” the statement read.
Almaty authorities warned that people can be “shot without warnings” in light of ongoing violence, a journalist in Almaty told CNN on Thursday.
The mayor’s office, the prosecutor’s office and the presidential building were attacked overnight, the journalist said. The presidential building was set on fire and there were fears the fire could spread, they added.
The city’s streets appear “scary quiet” Thursday morning but many shops are closed, the journalist said.
Internet and telecommunications were up for a brief time on Thursday after being shut down since Wednesday, the journalist added.
“In the cities of Almaty, Shymkent, and Taraz, attempts were made to attack akimats [local administration offices], where windows, doors were broken and other material damage was caused,” said a statement on the ministry’s website. “Stones, sticks, gas, pepper, and Molotov cocktails were used by the mob.”
On January 5, protesters reportedly stormed Almaty’s airport, forcibly entered government buildings, and set fire to the city’s main administration office, local media reported. There were also reports of deadly clashes with police and military, a nationwide internet blackout and buildings damaged in three major cities.
Kazakhstan, the world’s ninth-largest nation by landmass, has attracted foreign investment and maintained a strong economy since its independence in 1991, but its autocratic method of governance has prompted international concern and has seen authorities harshly crack down on protests, according to global rights groups.
CNN’s Anna Chernova, Radina Gigova and Ivan Watson contributed to this report.