(Updates with prosecutor comment from fourth paragraph.)
Dec. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Kazakh prosecutors started a criminal probe over the use of force by the police during unrest in Zhanaozen, where 16 people died in a mass riot on Dec. 16.
The authorities have arrested 18 people suspected of involvement in the violence that also left more than 100 people injured, Nurdaulet Suindikov, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office, told reporters today in the capital, Astana.
Oil workers at state-run KazMunaiGas Exploration Production in Zhanaozen have rioted after disputes over wages and job losses. Unrest in the Mangistau region, bordering the Caspian Sea in western Kazakhstan, spread after police used arms to suppress the riots, with one person killed in the nearby town of Shetpe on Dec. 17 and protesters rallying in the regional capital of Aktau.
“The immediate situation in Zhanaozen and the whole Mangistau region remains stable and under the control of law- enforcement bodies,” Suindikov said.
The Prosecutor General’s Office is denying reports that a large number of people are missing following the riots in Zhanaozen, Suindikov said. The authorities have received no requests or petitions on the matter and “officially there are no investigations ongoing,” he said.
Even so, officials have information that relatives are searching for persons missing after their detainment by the police, Suindikov said.
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