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Kazakhstan: Flydubai and Air Arabia cancel flights to Almaty amid deadly violence

Emirati airlines cancel flights to Kazakhstan's largest city amid reports of dozens of deaths during anti-government protests
A burned-out car is seen on a square near an administrative quarter in central Almaty on 6 January 2022 (AFP)

Middle East airlines Flydubai and Air Arabia cancelled services to Kazakhstan's largest city Almaty on Thursday, as the country faces its worst unrest in over a decade.

A Flydubai spokesperson said the airline had cancelled its two return Dubai-Almaty services scheduled for Thursday due to the "situation on the ground" there. 

While the service between Dubai and Almaty has been cancelled until 8 January, the spokesperson said Flydubai was still operating its flights to the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan.

The website for Air Arabia showed its return Sharjah-Almaty flights scheduled for Thursday as cancelled. There was no immediate comment from the Emirati airline, Reuters reported.

Almaty airport was reportedly overrun by anti-government protesters on Wednesday, forcing flights to be cancelled, before it was later retaken by government security forces.

Kuwaiti budget carrier Jazeera Airways on Wednesday suspended services to Almaty.

Unrest

Security forces in Kazakhstan say they have killed dozens of anti-government rioters in an operation to restore order in Almaty, the country's largest city.

Videos on social media on Thursday showed pillaged shops and burned buildings in the city, as well as automatic gunfire on the streets and residents screaming in fear. 

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Twelve security officers have also been killed and 353 wounded during the ongoing unrest, state media reports said on Thursday.

Russian news agencies Interfax and RIA Novosti reported that one of the dead security officers had been found with his head cut off. 

Kazakhstan's government has declared a nationwide state of emergency in response to the anti-government protests, which were sparked by a doubling in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas.

Protests spread across the nation of 19 million this week in outrage over the price increase, which is seen as unfair given oil and gas exporter Kazakhstan's vast energy reserves.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev appealed overnight to the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), which includes five other ex-Soviet states, to combat what he called "terrorist groups" that had "received extensive training abroad".

Within hours the alliance said the first troops had been sent, including Russian paratroopers and military units from the other CSTO members.

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