Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kazakh Officials Say 'Secret Graves' Found In Almaty Following Deadly Unrest

A Kazakh soldier patrols a street as relatives of arrested anti-government protesters gather near a police station in Almaty on January 14.

Kazakh officials say "secret graves" have been found in the Central Asian nation's largest city, Almaty, following deadly unrest in early January amid mass anti-government protests.

Saltanat Azirbek, a spokeswoman for the Almaty city police department, confirmed the existence of the graves on January 20 saying they were made by an unspecified group "to make it difficult to identify participants from the unrest."

Almaty city police chief Qanat Taimerdenov said there were several "attacks by possible terrorists" on Almaty morgues, with 41 bodies being taken away.

Kazakh officials, including President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, have blamed the violence that occurred during the protests, which were initially sparked by anger over a fuel price hike, on "terrorists" who aimed to overthrow the government. No evidence, however, has been put forward to back those claims.

Kazakh officials have said that 227 people, including 19 law enforcement officers, were killed during the protests.

Human rights activists, however, say the number of dead may be much higher as scores of people have gone missing since the unrest.

Based on reporting by KazTAG and Kazinform