Violent clashes broke out in southwestern Kazakh oil town of Zhanaozen on Friday amid celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence, local prosecutors said in a statement.
A report by the local K+ television channel station quoted a witness as saying that two or three people had been shot and killed in the unrest on the town’s central square.
In the statement posted on its website, the local Prosecutor General’s office denied the reports of gunfire, as well as of the deaths and dozens of wounded, which apeared in social networks. The statement said only two police officers had been injured.
The reports could not be independently verified on Friday.
A YouTube clip shot in Zhanaozen depicted scores of men dressed in purple jackets attacking several policemen on the square and ravaging a makeshift podium built for a celebration concert.
According to Kazakhstan’s opposition Respublika newspaper, the men were former employees of the state-controlled KazMunaiGas energy company, who had been fired for striking.
Similar strikes have taken place in the town for more than six months, with protesters demanding better salaries and working conditions.