Kazakhstan asks UN to help investigate deadly clashes

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Media captionUnverified video has appeard on the internet allegedly showing security forces beating protesters

Kazakhstan has asked the UN to help investigate violence that left 16 dead in an oil town last week.

Clashes between striking workers and police in the western town of Zhanaozen last Friday led the government to declare a state of emergency.

The authorities promise a transparent inquiry into the worst violence in the Central Asian country's recent history.

The governor of the region and the local boss of the state oil firm have reportedly been sacked.

Eyewitnesses say police fired on unarmed protesters, who have been protesting for months, in the town of 90,000.

But police say they were forced to defend themselves. A 20-day curfew is in effect until 5 January.

The invitation to the UN came after Kazakhstan's prosecutor general Askhat Daulbayev met the UN human rights envoy for Central Asia, Armen Harutyunyan, on Wednesday in the capital Astana.

Human rights groups have expressed concern over the treatment of protesters.

The clashes came as Kazakhstan marked the 20th anniversary of independence from the Soviet Union, with celebrations throughout the country.

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