The development came as protesters in Kazakhstan's capital stormed the presidential residence and the mayor's office and set both buildings on fire.

Thousands of demonstrators also tried to break into the presidential residence in Almaty.
Thousands of demonstrators also tried to break into the presidential residence in Almaty. (AP)

Kazakhstan has declared a nationwide state of emergency after protests over a fuel price hike erupted into clashes and saw demonstrators storm government buildings.

Russian news agencies Interfax, TASS and RIA Novosti reported the development quoting Kazakh state TV on Wednesday.

States of emergency had earlier been imposed in the epicentres of the rallies — financial capital Almaty, the Mangystau province, and capital Nur-Sultan. 

Protesters in Kazakhstan's largest city stormed the presidential residence and the mayor's office on Wednesday and set both buildings on fire. 

Police fired on some protesters at the presidential palace before fleeing. 

They have clashed repeatedly with demonstrators in recent days, deploying water cannons in the freezing weather, tear gas and concussion grenades.

READ MORE: City mayor's office torched, hundreds detained amid Kazakhstan unrest

Harsh measures

The government resigned in response to the unrest and the president vowed to take harsh measures to quell it.

In possibly the first of those efforts, Kazakh news sites became inaccessible late in the day, and the global watchdog organisation Netblocks said the country was experiencing a pervasive internet blackout.

Although the protests began over a near-doubling of prices for a type of liquefied gas that is widely used as vehicle fuel, the size and rapid spread of the unrest suggest they reflect wider discontent in the country that has been under the rule of the same party since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Kazakhstan, the ninth-largest country in the world, borders Russia to the north and China to the east and has extensive oil reserves that make it strategically and economically important.

Despite those reserves and mineral wealth, discontent over poor living conditions is strong in some parts of the country.

READ MORE: Russia warns against outside interference in Kazakhstan, urges dialogue

Presidential residence attacked

Many Kazakhs also chafe at the dominance of the ruling party, which holds more than 80 percent of the seats in parliament.

Hours after thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the presidential residence in Almaty, Russia’s Tass news agency reported that it was on fire and that demonstrators, some wielding firearms, were trying to break into it.

Police fled from the residence after shooting at demonstrators, according to the report, which was filed from Kazakhstan.

Many of the demonstrators who converged on the mayoral office carried clubs and shields, according to earlier reports in Kazakh media. Tass later said the building was engulfed in flames.

The protests began on Sunday in Zhanaozen, a city in the west where resentment of the government was strong in the wake of a 2011 oil-worker strike in which police fatally shot at least 15 people.

READ MORE: Kazakhstan govt resigns amid mass protests over gas price hike

Source: TRTWorld and agencies