Pope calls for dialogue and justice to end unrest in Kazakhstan Photograph:( Reuters )
His remarks came while addressing a gathering at the St. Peter's Square for his noon blessing
In an attempt to end unrest in Kazakhstan, Pope Francis on Sunday called for dialogue and justice. "I have learned with sorrow that there have been victims during the protests that have broken out in recent days in Kazakhstan," Pope said.
He further added, "I pray for them and for their families, and I hope that social harmony will be restored as soon as possible through the search for dialogue, justice and the common good."
His remarks came while addressing a gathering at the St. Peter's Square for his noon blessing.
As per local media reports, a total of 164 people have died in the wake of violent protests this week and a total of 7,939 people has been detained by security forces.
On Monday, Kazakhstan's President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev also characterised the unrest as a coup attempt. He vowed that his security services will never shoot peaceful protesters.
"Armed militants, who were waiting in the wings, joined the protests. The main goal was obvious: the undermining of the constitutional order, the destruction of government institutions and the seizure of power. It was an attempted coup d'etat", Tokayev said.
Initially, the protests against fuel prices were peaceful. However, with time, the protests intensified as government buildings were briefly captured or torched in many cities.
The demonstrations in Kazakhstan began as a response to Tokayev replacing the president of the resource-rich former Soviet republic, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
The protests were the most widespread since Kazakhstan’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
(With inputs from agencies)