Former counterterrorism chief arrested for protests in Kazakhstan

Former head of Kazakhstan’s counter-intelligence and counterterrorism agency arrested for attempting to overthrow the government following violent protests the president blamed on foreign-backed terrorists

MOSCOW – The former head of Kazakhstan’s counterintelligence and counterterrorism agency has been arrested for attempting to overthrow the government following violent protests the president blamed on terrorists backed by the foreigner.

Karim Masimov’s arrest was announced on Saturday by the National Security Committee, which Kasimov headed until he was ousted this week by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Authorities say security forces killed 26 protesters in this week’s unrest and 18 law enforcement officials have died. More than 4,400 people have been arrested, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

The protests in the Central Asian country were the most widespread since Kazakhstan’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

The unrest began in the far west of the country as protests against the sharp rise in the prices of liquefied petroleum gas, widely used as vehicle fuel, spread to the country’s largest city, Almaty, where protesters seized and torched government buildings.

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