Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee on Saturday announced the arrest of the former head of the country’s counterintelligence and anti-terror agency on charges linked to the violent protests that have erupted over the past week.
Karim Masimov was removed from his post earlier this week by Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, who has blamed the protests on foreign-backed terrorists.
Mr. Masimov is charged with attempting to overthrow the government, the Associated Press reported.
Protests erupted earlier this week over a sharp rise in the price of liquefied petroleum gas, commonly used to fuel vehicles. Protesters eventually seized and set fire to government buildings in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city.
Security forces have killed 26 and arrested more than 4,400 demonstrators amid the unrest. Eighteen law enforcement officers have died, according to the country’s Interior Ministry.
On Friday, Mr. Tokayev authorized security forces to shoot to kill demonstrators involved in the unrest.
Close to 2,500 foreign peacekeepers, mostly Russian troops, have deployed to Kazakhstan upon Mr. Tokayev’s request.
Kazakhstan officials offered no further details about what led to Mr. Masimov’s arrest or what, specifically, he is alleged to have done to overthrow the government.
The National Security Committee carries out counterintelligence and anti-terrorism operations and is responsible for Kazakhstan’s border guard service.
• This story includes wire reports