Riots Spread in Western Kazakh Oil Region; Death Toll Reaches 14

Riots spread in western Kazakhstan, raising the death toll to 14 after a clash with police in the town of Shetpe killed one person yesterday.

A group of people blocked the railway in Shetpe, in the oil-producing Mangistau region, disrupting train services, the Kazakh Prosecutor’s General Office said today in an e-mailed statement. They broke windows of shops and vehicles in the town yesterday, prosecutors said.

The police were forced to use arms to suppress the rioters, who were threatening the life of officers and residents, prosecutors said. Twelve people with gunshot wounds were taken to the hospital in Mangistau, where one of them died, according to the statement.

The rioters voiced support for protesters in the town of Zhanaozen, where 13 people died and 86 were injured in a mass riot on Dec. 16, according to a separate statement from the prosecutors today. In Zhanaozen, a state of emergency was declared.

KazMunaiGas Exploration Production, the London-listed unit of Kazakhstan’s national energy company, has been hit by “illegal labor action” over wages since May, which contributed to a 7 percent decline in oil output in January through September from a year earlier, the company said last month. KazMunaiGas EP have fired about 1,300 workers involved in the protests at two units in its biggest oil-production region, the company said in August.

A group of armed “hooligans” attacked civilians and police and burned down city hall, hotels and an administrative building belonging to KazMunaiGas EP’s Uzenmunaigas unit, Prosecutor General Farhat Daulbayev said in a statement on Dec. 16, Kazakhstan’s independence day.

KazMunaiGas EP said production wasn’t harmed and its employees didn’t take part in the riots, according to Dec. 16 statement from the oil producer. Security at the facilities has been heightened, it said.

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