Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Deadly riots spread in Kazakhstan oil region At least 14 people killed

Police in Kazakhstan's central city of Shetpe have opened fire on rioters, killing one person and raising the death toll since violence erupted on Friday to 14.

A statement from the prosecutor general's office said on Sunday the violence occurred on Saturday in Shetpe, in the same region as the city of Zhanaozen where 13 people died in a clash with police two days earlier.

Zhanaozen has been the site of a sit-in by oil workers seeking higher wages. Many of those workers were fired over the summer.

The prosecutor general said a group of people in Shetpe, a train station about 100km from the regional centre Aktau on the Caspian sea, stopped a train with 300 passengers and "called for support of mass riots".

Some 50 people resisted police demands to let the train move, torched the locomotives and proceeded to vandalise the village near the station.

"Police were forced to open fire," wounding 12 people, the statement said. The total number wounded since the violence began is estimated to be around 100.

Kazakhstan's foreign ministry blamed the clashes on a small group of provocateurs allegedly set on disrupting a public celebration marking the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kazakh president, has declared a 20-day state of emergency in Zhanaozen. Read More