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Russia-led troops start Kazakh pull-out

A Russia-led military bloc have begun to pull its troops out of Kazakhstan after a week-long deployment which helped the Central Asian nation overcome the worst bout of violent unrest in its post-Soviet history.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev asked for assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) last week as violence gripped half of the country while he dismissed some of his senior security officials who were later charged with treason.

This week, the authorities said they had stabilised the situation and completed what they called an “anti-terrorist operation” in the country.

“Thanks to your arrival, Kazakh military and security forces were able to carry out their immediate task of locating and detaining bandits,” Kazakh Deputy Defence Minister Mukhamedzhan Talasov told departing CSTO troops on Thursday.

The alliance said on Wednesday the peacekeeping contingent would take 10 days to fully withdraw.

The protests, triggered by a sharp increase in car fuel prices, were initially peaceful, but turned violent in many major cities as some protesters attacked security forces, captured and torched government buildings and looted shops.

The authorities have detained almost 10,000 people over the unrest and said some of the attackers were foreigners trained by Islamist militants.

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