More than 150 people have died and almost 6,000 have been arrested in Kazakhstan following violent riots in Central Asia’s largest country this week, media reported on Sunday (Jan 9) citing the health ministry. The energy-rich nation of 19 million people has been rocked by a week of upheaval, with a number of foreigners detained over the unrest. At least 164 people were killed in the riots, including 103 in the largest city Almaty, which saw some of the fiercest clashes between protesters and security forces. The new figures — which have not been independently verified — mark a drastic increase in the death toll. Officials previously said 26 “armed criminals” had been killed and that 16 security officers had died. In total, 5,800 people have been detained for questioning, the presidency said in a statement on Sunday. The figures included “a substantial number of foreign nationals”, it said without elaborating. “The situation has stabilised in all regions of the country,” even if security forces were continuing “clean-up” operations, the statement added after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev held a crisis meeting. Fuel price rises sparked the unrest that broke out a week ago in the country’s west but quickly spread to large cities, including the economic hub Almaty, where riots erupted and police opened fire using live rounds. The interior ministry, quoted Sunday by local media, put property damage at around 175 million euros ($199 million). More than 100 businesses and banks were attacked and looted and more than 400 vehicles destroyed, the ministry reportedly said. A relative calm appeared to have returned to Almaty, with police sometimes firing shots into the air to stop people approaching the city’s central square, an AFP correspondent said. Supermarkets were reopening on Sunday, media reported, amid fears of food shortages. – High treason – Kazakhstan said Saturday its former security chief had been arrested for suspected treason. News of the detention of Karim Masimov, a former prime minister and longtime ally of Kazakhstan’s ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, came amid speculation of a power struggle in the ex-Soviet nation. The domestic intelligence agency, the National Security Committee (KNB), announced Masimov had been detained on Thursday on suspicion of high treason. The arrest came after protests turned into widespread violence, with government buildings in Almaty stormed and set ablaze. Masimov, 56, was fired at the height of the unrest on Wednesday, when Tokayev also took over from Nazarbayev as head of the powerful security council. Nazarbayev’s spokesman Aidos Ukibay on Sunday again denied rumours the ex-president had left the country and said he supported the president.