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In a statement on Sunday, the president's office claimed those arrested included "a sizeable number of foreign nationals", but gave no further details.

They started on 2 January and grew to reflect discontent at the government and former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who led Kazakhstan for three decades and is still thought to retain significant influence.

The presidential statement added that the situation had stabilised, with troops continuing "cleanup" operations and guarding "strategic facilities".

A state of emergency and a nationwide curfew remain in place.

It is a huge country the size of Western Europe.

A former Soviet republic which is mainly Muslim with a large Russian minority, it has vast mineral resources, with 3 % of global oil reserves and important coal and gas sectors.

Why is it making the news?

The security forces said they killed rioters in Almaty while trying to restore order and that protesters had tried to take control of police stations in the city.

The US secretary of state, meanwhile, criticised the shoot-to-kill order that President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said he had issued.

The shoot-to-kill order, to the extent it exists, is wrong and should be rescinded," Antony Blinken told ABC.

In another development, neighbouring Kyrgyzstan lodged a protest with the Kazakh ambassador over the detention in Kazakhstan of a Kyrgyz jazz musician, after footage emerged apparently showing him in custody, badly beaten.

the sacked officials, marat osipov and daulet ergozhin, were deputies to former intelligence chief karim massimov had been arrested on suspicion of treason.

Two former deputies to Mr Massimov have also been removed from their posts, the president's office said on Sunday.

Authorities in Kazakhstan have said 164 people were killed in the unrest that rocked the country in the past week, including three children.

The health ministry said 103 of the deaths were in Almaty, the country's largest city and the centre of the violence.

The figures, which were reported on the state news channel Khabar-24, are a significant increase from a previous death toll stated by authorities, who said 26 members of the public had died.

Kazakh authorities said earlier on Sunday that 16 members of the police or national guard had been killed.

Kazakhstan's ombudswoman for children ’ s rights said that three of those killed were minors, included a four-year-old girl.

Almost 6,000 people were detained by police during the protests, according to the office of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Presidential officials said unrest had largely stabilised in the country and authorities have now regained control of administrative buildings that were previously occupied by protesters.

on wednesday, tokayev called on a russia-led military alliance, the collective security treaty organization ( csto ), to send troops into the country.

President Tokayev said on Friday he had authorised police and the military to shoot to kill demonstrators.

Almaty's airport, which was seized by protesters last week, remained closed but is expected to resume operations on Monday.

protests began last sunday in the west of the country over a steep rise in fuel prices, and quickly spread to almaty and other cities, driven by years of pent-up frustration.

Kazakhstan has been ruled by the same party since it gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Mr Tokayev has claimed without evidence the demonstrations were ignited by "terrorists" with foreign backing.

On Wednesday, violent clashes began, and groups of men seized the airport and stormed government buildings.

"Regretfully, peaceful demonstrations in Almaty and some other regions were hijacked by perpetrators and both local and external terrorist groups speaking foreign languages," he said.

He was removed by Tokayev as head of the National Security Council this week.

Many of the protesters chanted, "Old man, out !"

in reference to Nazarbayev, while in the city of Taldykorgan, a statue of him was pulled down.

Almaty, the commercial capital of Kazakhstan, is the kind of mirage that oil-rich nations so often produce.

This last question is key to understanding what is happening today.

Legislation adopted in 2010 made any coverage of Nazarbayev and his family deemed insulting, defamatory or overly invasive an offence worthy of imprisonment.

It is difficult to know what exactly is going on in the country since the government has turned off the internet, and telephones don't work.

Dozens of people, including at least 18 law enforcement officers, have been killed.

“ We must destroy them.

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