The report that a US-funded ‘military biological laboratory’ in Kazakhstan was seized by rioters in the recent unrest, which has seen at least 160 dead since the violence broke out just one week ago, is being denied by the Kazakh officials.
According to the Daily Mail, it is unclear whether the deaths, reported by the health ministry to state news channel Khabar-24 are primarily civilians or law enforcement. However, on Sunday, officials said that at least 16 police or national guard members had been killed. Pictures of Kazakh secret service operatives killed during the unrest have also been released.
Russian media claims that the biolab near Almaty, built in 2017, is used to study outbreaks of particularly dangerous infections. This lab was ‘compromised,’ resulting in a potential leak of dangerous pathogens. However, the Kazakh officials have denied the claim.
The secret bio-laboratory funded by the US defence department – which has links to Russian and Chinese scientists – was also compromised in the disturbances, according to social media claims that it was seized.
‘This is not true. The facility is being guarded,’ said the health ministry which is responsible for the Central Reference Laboratory, in Almaty.
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Official Russian news agency TASS had highlighted alleged social media reports that it was taken over by ‘unidentified people’ and ‘specialists in chemical protection suits were working near the lab so a leak of dangerous pathogens could have occurred’.
The laboratory’s existence has been controversial and in 2020 the country formally denied that it was being used to make biological weapons.
At the time, the Kazakh government stated: ‘No biological weapons development is underway in Kazakhstan – and no research is conducted against any other states.’ -Daily Mail
As the Mail notes, “The airport, mayor’s office and secret services buildings fell briefly into the hands of rioters during a wave of protests backed by shadowy armed cells.”
The lab has been in controversy recently, amid ‘growing intrigue’ over how the recent protests came to be organized, and which have been tamped down since a large Russian force was sent to the country.
Nearly 6,000 people have been detained following the riots, with a “sizeable number of foreign nationals among them,” the Mail reports. It’s unclear where these alleged foreign provocateurs originated from.
Russia and allies Belarus have continued to pour troops and equipment into Kazakhstan.
Kazakh authorities said earlier on Sunday that 16 police or national guard members had been killed in the protests that started on January 2.
A total of 103 deaths were in Almaty, the country’s largest city, where demonstrators seized government buildings and set some on fire, according to the ministry. The country’s ombudswoman for children’s rights said that three of those killed were minors, including a four-year-old girl.
The ministry earlier reported more than 2,200 people sought treatment for injuries from the protests, and the Interior Ministry said about 1,300 security officers were injured. -Daily Mail
Ordering the arrest of Kazakhstan’s powerful former intelligence chief, Karim Massimov, on the charge of high treason, was among the boldest and eye-brow raising political moves by embattled Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev within the past days.
Massimov has long been considered “right hand man” of prior longtime strongman ruler Nursultan Nazarbayev and had served as his prime minister.
Kazakh lab and 1994 Surat Plague
The plague outbreak in the western Indian city of Surat in 1994 has been mired in controversy just as COVID-19. The origin of the outbreak is still a mystery. Indian defense establishment believes the 1994 Surat Plague is a case of bioterrorism.
Numerous media outlets at the time reported the involvement of American Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It was suspected that the germ with an extra protein ring was developed by a CDC lab in Almaty, Kazakhstan.