NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan

A total of 18 foreign nationals remain under arrest in Kazakhstan for allegedly being involved in the deadly unrest that swept the country last month, the country’s human rights commissioner said on Tuesday.

Speaking at a news meeting, Elvira Azimova said that foreign nationals, 14 of whom are Uzbek, two Russian and two Kyrgyz nations, are jailed pending trial.

Azimova said that the foreign nationals are kept in temporary detention centers.

Kazakh authorities on Monday also detained former Defense Minister Murat Bektanov after prosecutors launched a probe against him for allegedly failing to fulfil his duties during the unrest.

On Jan. 2, massive protests broke out in Kazakhstan over fuel price rises, and later escalated into clashes with police, with the most violent incidents taking place in Kazakhstan’s former capital and largest city Almaty.

Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev turned to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a Russian-led military bloc, for help, and peacekeepers from Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Tajikistan came to the country and backed Kazakhstan’s law enforcement in restoring order.

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