Kazakhstan’s authoritarian leader says he has told security forces to “fire without warning” amid a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also said “20,000 bandits” had attacked the main city of Almaty, the epicentre of protests sparked by a fuel price hike.
He has blamed foreign-trained “terrorists”, without giving evidence.
The interior ministry says 26 “armed criminals” and 18 security officers have been killed so far in the unrest.
In a televised address, Tokayev said the peacekeeping forces sent from Russia and neighbouring states had arrived on his request and were in the country on a temporary basis to ensure security.
The force from the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) reportedly has about 2,500 soldiers.
Tokayev gave “special thanks” to Russian President Vladimir Putin for sending troops.
President Tokayev dismissed calls to hold talks with protesters as “nonsense”, saying: “What kind of talks can we hold with criminal and murderers?”
He added: “We had to deal with armed and well-prepared bandits, local as well as foreign. More precisely, with terrorists. So we have to destroy them, this will be done soon.”
Earlier today, fresh gunfire was heard near the main square of Almaty.