Kazakhstani president issues 'shoot to kill' order to quell protests

The president of Kazakhstan on Friday said during a televised address that he had provided security forces orders to “shoot to kill” in an effort to tamp down protests over rising fuel prices that have also become a rebuke to former longtime President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Reuters reported.

"The militants have not laid down their arms, they continue to commit crimes or are preparing for them. The fight against them must be pursued to the end. Whoever does not surrender will be destroyed," President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in the address, according to the news outlet.

Tokayev said that the army and law enforcement agencies had been given an order “to shoot to kill without warning."

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More than 3,700 have been arrested in protests, according to Kazakhstani state TV, Reuters noted. Its interior ministry said 18 national guard members and police have been killed in addition to 26 “armed criminals” who have been “liquidated.”

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which includes five former Soviet allies and Russia, deployed troops to the country. Russia and Tokayev have blamed foreign terrorists for protests, without providing evidence.

White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul Qatar emir to meet with Biden at White House next week White House underscores action amid violent crime streak MORE commented on Russia's involvement in the situation while speaking on Thursday with reporters during a White House briefing, saying the U.S. “questions about the nature of this request and whether it was a legitimate invitation or not.”

“The world will, of course, be watching for any violation of human rights and actions that may lay the predicate for the seizure of Kazakh institutions, and we call on the CSTO collective peacekeeping forces and law enforcement to uphold international human rights obligations in order to support a peaceful resolution,” she added.

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenPutin, Macron to hold call on Friday amid rising Russia-Ukraine tensions Meeks leading bipartisan trip to Ukraine amid Russia tensions Negotiating with a liar (Putin's dog is a cat)  MORE also spoke to Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tileuberdi on Thursday in which he emphasized “the United States’ full support for Kazakhstan’s constitutional institutions and media freedom and advocated for a peaceful, rights-respecting resolution to the crisis.”