On Dec. 17, Nazarbayev imposed a 20-day state of emergency and curfew in the city after a seven-month strike by oil workers over wages and sackings erupted into clashes with police. The state of emergency had been due to be lifted on Jan. 5.
The bloodshed, on Independence Day on Dec. 16, dealt a blow to the image of stability touted by Nazarbayev as his main achievement in the vast nation of 16.6 million, Central Asia‘s largest economy and oil producer.
The violence in Zhanaozen, 150 km (95 miles) from the Caspian Sea, was followed by a riot in the nearby village of Shetpe on Dec. 17, where another person was killed. More than 100 people were wounded in the clashes.