Kazakhstan’s largest city back online after clashes, blackout: Report

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The internet returned to Kazakhstan’s largest city Monday after a five-day blackout as deadly clashes left dozens dead and the financial hub of 1.8 million people reeling, an AFP correspondent reported.

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Almaty, Kazakhstan’s former capital, had been nearly completely offline since Wednesday, but local and foreign websites were accessible again Monday, which was declared a day of mourning following the worst unrest in the ex-Soviet republic’s independent history.

Kazakhstan has framed the violence in Almaty as an attack by “terrorist groups” and expressed displeasure at foreign media coverage of the events that began with protests over a fuel price hike in the west of the country on January 2.

But the authoritarian government has also struggled to firm up its own narrative of events.

On Sunday evening the information ministry retracted a statement that appeared in an officially run Telegram channel earlier in the day saying that more than 164 people had died across the country during the violence.

The information ministry told two private websites that reported the news that the statement was the result of a “technical mistake”, the websites reported.

In a statement sent to media on Monday, the foreign ministry said foreign media reports had created “the false impression that the Kazakhstan government has been targeting peaceful protestors. Our security forces have been engaging with violent mobs who were committing brazen acts of terror.”

Life was steadily returning to normal in Almaty Monday, AFP correspondents saw, with public transport visible on the city’s roads for the first time since the violence began.

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