By Ria Novosti
Ten people were killed in clashes in the southwestern Kazakh oil town of Zhanaozen on Friday, the country prosecutor general, Askhat Daulbayev, said in a statement.
Violent clashes broke out on the town’s central square when a group of men attacked police officers as the country marked the 20th anniversary of its independence.
Local media reports identified the attackers as employees of the state-controlled KazMunaiGas energy company.
Daulbayev said the violence erupted when a “group of hooligans” attacked the police. Several people, including police officers, have been wounded, he said.
The building of the town administration, a local office of KazMunaiGas’s subsidiary, OzenMunaiGas, a hotel and several cars have been set on fire in the unrest, he said.
Media reports quoted local residents as saying mobile and Internet communication had been switched off in the town.
KazMunaiGas employees in Zhanaozen have staged strikes for more than six months, demanding better salaries and working conditions.
The unrest came amid nationwide celebrations dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the oil-rich Central Asian republic’s independence from the Soviet Union.
In a telegram sent on Friday to his Kazakh counterpart Karim Masimov, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin praised the country’s leadership over its success in building state institutions and progress in the social and economic spheres.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also sent a telegram to Kazakhstan’s long-standing leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, in which he hailed the republic’s contribution to regional integration processes.