By Jeyhun Aliyev
ANKARA (AA) - People experienced in "getting involved in hotspots" on the side of "radical Islamist groups" were among the attackers during recent riots in Kazakhstan, the Kazakh envoy to Turkiye said on Tuesday.
"Kazakhstan was subjected to armed aggression by well-coordinated terrorist groups trained abroad," Kazakh Ambassador Abzal Saparbekuly told reporters in the capital Ankara.
"Terrorist groups emerged by activating so-called sleeper cells. Unfortunately, the law enforcement agencies of Kazakhstan were not prepared for such large and coordinated attacks in several regions at once," Saparbekuly said, adding that at this stage the authorities do not wish to name any terror organization behind the protests.
He said 16 Kazakh soldiers who confronted the "terrorists" were "martyred," two of whom were beheaded, and 1,300 security forces personnel got wounded.
As many as 164 people were killed in four main provinces, while at least 8,000 have so far been detained, he added.
Although the telecommunication and internet was down, the "terrorists" had walkie-talkies for communication and coordination, Saparbekuly said.
He explained that the recent tensions were not peaceful demonstrations, and cannot be termed an uprising such as Arab spring or the newly coined "Turkic spring."
"Although, initially, the rallies in western Kazakhstan were peaceful and socio-economic in nature, participants in the later demonstrations did not put forward any economic or even political demands. They had no intention of negotiating with the authorities, but aimed to overthrow the constitutional order by force," the envoy said.
Kazakhstan had been rocked by days of deadly protests sparked by a fuel price hike.
Demonstrations that started in the oil-rich Mangystau region on Jan. 2 spread rapidly to other parts of the country, including the commercial hub and former capital Almaty, where thousands took to the streets.
The situation is said to have stabilized, with the help of troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russia-led military alliance of former Soviet states.