Police fire on rioters in Kazakhstan, kill one
SHETPE Kazakhstan - The Associated Press
AP photoPolice opened fire on rioters in a town in the tense southwest of Kazakhstan, leaving one person dead and 11 wounded, authorities said yesterday.
A statement from the Prosecutor General’s office said the violence occurred Dec. 17 in the town of Shetpe, in the same region as the city of Zhanaozen where 13 people died in a clash with police Dec. 16.
The statement said about 300 demostrators supporting the Zhanaozen victims blocked railroad traffic for several hours and after police tried to force them away, a group of about 50 set a locomotive on fire, then moved into the town where they broke windows and set the municipal Christmas tree ablaze. The statement did not specify at what point police opened fire.
Zhanaozen has been the site of a sit-in by oil workers seeking higher wages. Many of those workers were fired over the summer. Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry laid responsibility for the clashes on a small group of provocateurs allegedly set on disrupting a public celebration marking the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan’s independence. Kazakhstan’s president Dec. 17 imposed a three-week state of emergency in Zhanaozen. Cellular telephone and Internet connections in the city have been out of service since the Friday violence, making independent verification of the security situation impossible. Three Russian journalists were also briefly detained in Zhanaozen yesterday, according to Kommersant, and then released.