Kazakhstan anti-terror chief arrested

In the aftermath of violent protests blamed on foreign-backed terrorists, the former chief of Kazakhstan's anti-terror agency was detained on allegations of attempted regime takeover.

The National Security Committee, which Karim Masimov led until President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev replaced him this week, confirmed his detention on Saturday.

Authorities believe security forces murdered 26 protestors and 18 law enforcement personnel during this week's violence. According to the Interior Ministry, almost 4,400 persons have been arrested.

The demonstrations in Kazakhstan were the most widespread since the country gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Protests against a sudden increase in the price of liquefied petroleum gas, which is commonly used as automobile fuel, began in the country's far west.

The demonstrations escalated to Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, when people seized and burnt government facilities.

The Collective Security Treaty Organization, a Russia-led military alliance of six former Soviet states, agreed to send roughly 2,500 Russian troops to Kazakhstan as peacekeepers at Tokayev's request.

Tokayev announced on Friday that he had given security troops permission to fire and kill protesters.