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According to Russian news agencies, Russian paratroopers arrived in Kazakhstan as part of a “peacekeeping” mission of a Moscow-led military alliance to help the president regain control of the country.

Kazakhstan’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, called for the intervention of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) – an alliance made up of Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – late Wednesday and was quickly approved.

It comes as violent clashes continue between protesters and the police and army in Kazakhstan.

There is little reliable information on the death toll, but local news agencies quoted a police spokesperson in Almaty, the country’s largest city, as saying dozens of people were killed in the attacks on government buildings.

Almaty city authorities said Thursday that 353 police and security personnel were injured and 12 were killed.

Shots were fired on Thursday morning as troops entered Almaty’s main square. Several armored vehicles and dozens of foot soldiers arrived Thursday morning, with gunfire heard as they approached the crowd, Reuters witnesses said.

State television reported Thursday that the National Bank of Kazakhstan has suspended all financial institutions. The internet in the country is mostly inactive, as is the reception of cell phones.

Violent clashes and shootings in Almaty and other cities were reported on Wednesday, as well as unverified videos suggesting casualties among the protesters.

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