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19 Dec, 2011 07:57

Kazakh cops keep rioters at bay

Kazakh authorities managed to restore order after 15 people have been confirmed dead and about 100 injured over a bloody weekend of mass violence that erupted in the city of Zhanaozen in western Kazakhstan.

Still, the situation in the Central Asian republic remains volatile, after deadly clashes between striking oil workers and police sparked more unrest across the region.The riots erupted on Friday as the republic celebrated 20 years of independence. A protest rally combined with Independence Day festivities turned into a very ugly scene. Protesters began to set buildings on fire, including state facilities.Authorities reported 46 buildings have been burnt to the ground.At first authorities reacted mildly. The riot police that arrived at the scene attempted to disperse crowds, but faced fierce resistance and had to shoot in the air. That did not help to calm the crowd down. After that, police had to open fire and the riot was stopped, leaving 13 dead and over 80 injured. Over 60 people were detained, including three Russian journalists, who have already been released.After that, a state of emergency was declared in the city of Zhanaozen. Authorities report of an attempt to storm the local court building.There have also been reports that on Sunday in the town of Aktau about 400 protestors gathered in the downtown near the local administration headquarters, but the rally proceeded without violence.The other rallies did not go on in the same fashion, unfortunately. For example on Saturday a group of protestors blocked a railway station and a passenger train with over 300 people on board. When police arrived to restore order, a core group of about 50 instigators showed fierce resistance, setting a locomotive on fire and throwing Molotov cocktails at railway carriages and police. Eventually, the renegades were driven away from the station.Having failed in the city, some mutineers attempted to instigate unrest in the nearby villages, setting things on fire and crashing in windows in shops and cars. Authorities said those raving rioters posed real threat to locals.As a result of the unrest, 12 people were hospitalized. One of the injured died in hospital.