On Friday morning, security forces appeared to be in control of the streets of Almaty, Kazakhstan's main city, and the president said that constitutional order had been mainly restored, a day after Russia dispatched soldiers to put down a nationwide uprising.

However, fresh gunfire could be heard near the city's centre square in the morning, where troops and protestors had fought for much of the previous day.

In the worst unrest in the Central Asian state's 30 years of independence, dozens of people have been murdered in street fights, and protesters have set fire to and trashed public buildings in many cities.

Demonstrations that began in response to a fuel price increase have grown into a broad movement against the government and ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, the longest-serving ruler of any former Soviet state. He stood down as president three years ago, but his family is widely considered to still hold power.

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President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Nazarbayev's hand-picked successor, sent in Russian paratroopers on Thursday as part of a force from former Soviet states to assist put down the uprising, which he has labelled as a revolt by foreign-trained militants.

"An anti-terrorist operation has been launched. The forces of law and order are working hard. Constitutional order has largely been restored in all regions of the country," Tokayev said in a statement.

"An anti-terrorist operation has begun. The forces of law and order are working hard. In most parts of the country, constitutional order has been restored," Tokayev said.

"Local authorities are in control of the situation. Terrorists, on the other hand, continue to use weapons and cause damage to civilians' property. As a result, counter-terrorist measures should continue until all militants have been eliminated."