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Kazakhstan president tells police to open fire with lethal force on protesters

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Kazakhstan president tells police to open fire with lethal force on protesters
Riot police block a street during a protest rally over a hike in energy prices in Almaty, Kazakhstan, earlier this week after Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev declared a state of emergency in the capital until January 19. Tokayev on Friday ordered police to open fire on protesters with lethal force if necessary. Photo by STR/EPA-EFE

Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Kazakhstan's president gave orders Friday to open fire "with lethal force" and without warning against protesters.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered security forces and the army to use lethal force against what he called violent bandits and terrorists.

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Dozens of protesters and at least 18 officers were killed in clashes this week, but the figure may rise.

More than 3,000 people have been detained after protests against a sudden rise in fuel prices turned violent.

Protesters have long been frustrated over the country's political and economic situation.

Tokayev said Friday that the country's largest city, Almaty, has been stabilized after introducing a state of emergency that will run until Jan. 22.

"But terrorists continue to damage state and private property and use weapons against citizens," he said. "I gave the order to law enforcement agencies and the army to open fire to kill without warning."

Tokaykev painted protesters to be the product of a well-organized enemy carrying out terrorist attacks and specialists trained in ideological sabotage.

But protestors denied those claims and said they were there to combat corruption.

Protesters stormed the airport, entered government buildings and set fire to Almaty's main administration office.

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About 3,600 members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization were deployed to the area earlier this week.

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