Photos: Dramatic scenes from Kazakhstan’s massive protests and crackdown

This week, Kazakhstan has seen some of its largest public protests since gaining independence from the Soviet Union over 30 years ago — and a deadly crackdown by its authoritarian government in response. The president said Friday he has authorized security forces to shoot to kill.

The protests began in the beginning of the year in a small oil town after a sudden major increase in the price of a type of fuel widely used in vehicles in Kazakhstan. Since then, tens of thousands of people have joined in demonstrations, signaling broader discontent with the Central Asian country’s economy and authoritarian rule. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has called the demonstrators “terrorists.”

Protesters have set cars and government buildings on fire. Casualties have mounted, including dozens of protesters and law enforcement. A regional security alliance led by Russia sent troops to the country.

Here are some of the images from the dramatic scenes that unfolded this week.

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