Kazakh police open fire on rioters
On Saturday evening, a group of some 50 people blocked a railway near town of Shetpe to protest at the violent crackdown on protesters in an oil town around a hundred kilometers to the north-east, Itar-Tass news agency reports.
As police stepped in to disperse the crowd, the rioters attacked a cargo train with Molotov cocktails. The unrest then spread to the town of Shetpe, where rioters knocked down a Christmas tree and smashed shop windows and cars.
“Given the fact the hooligans’ actions were posing a real threat to the life and health of civilians and police officers, the police were forced to open fire,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
The events follow a massive riot in the eastern city of Zhanaozen on Friday, when thousands of oil workers took to the streets demanding higher wages. The authorities deployed additional police and troops to the town and also cut off cellular and Internet networks there.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has enforced a 20-day state of emergency and an evening curfew in Zhanaozen. Police have arrested some 70 people in the violent uprising, which has left at least 15 people dead and more than 80 injured.
The state of emergency includes a ban on using audio and video recording equipment and limits the freedom of movement during night hours. Three Russian journalists were detained on Sunday for violating these orders. All of them have reportedly been released after the investigators checked their identities.
The president vowed that those behind the riots will face tough punishment.