Dozens of protesters were killed as they tried to take over government buildings in Kazakhstan's commercial capital Almaty, the country's police spokesman said Thursday.
Saltanat Azirbek, in a statement to local news channel Haber 24, said clashes were reported as police officers tried to stop protesters from entering government buildings in Almaty on Wednesday night.
He said an operation to quell the protests was ongoing and advised residents to stay at home.
Meanwhile, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev instructed all law enforcement officers to stay on alert.
Tokayev has also established a special investigation group consisting of prosecutors and top security officials to determine the events which led to the escalation, said a statement from the presidency.
Moreover, regional governors have been asked to provide financial support to the families of the police and soldiers who lost their lives in the clashes.
Protests broke out last Sunday in the Central Asian nation after drivers held demonstrations against an increase in LPG prices in the city of Zhanaozen in Mangystau.
The protests spread to other areas of Kazakhstan taking the shape of countrywide public demonstrations.
Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry said Wednesday that more than 200 people were detained for disrupting public order, 37 police vehicles were damaged and 95 police officers were injured.
To ensure public safety, a state of emergency was declared in Almaty and the oil-rich Mangystau region in the west from Jan. 5-19.