Kazakh president’s residence on fire as protests ratchet up

The presidential residence in Kazakhstan’s largest city is engulfed in flames and armed protesters have stormed another government building, according to news reports, as demonstrations sparked by a rise in fuel prices escalate sharply.

In response to the protests, the government has resigned and the president vowed to take harsh measures to quell the unrest. Kazakh news sites have since become inaccessible, and the global watchdog organization Netblocks says the country is experiencing a pervasive internet blackout.

But Russia’s Tass news agency reports from Kazakhstan that the presidential residence in Almaty, where thousands of demonstrators had gathered outside, was on fire and that the city’s main administration building that includes the mayor’s office was burning from top to bottom hours after demonstrators broke in.

Many of the demonstrators who converged on the mayoral office carried clubs and shields, according to earlier reports in Kazakh media.

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