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Striking Kazakh Oil Worker Attacked

Thousands of Kazakh oil and gas workers have been on strike since May.

Thousands of Kazakh oil and gas workers have been on strike since May.

ZHANAOZEN, Kazakhstan -- A striking oil worker in western Kazakhstan has been shot during an attack, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

People's Front movement activist Aizhangul Amirova told RFE/RL on October that she and activist Zhanar Saqtaghanova -- who is also a striking oil worker -- were on their way home at around 9:45 pm on October 9 when a man approached them near their apartment block, pulled out a gun, and shot Saqtaghanova.

"The gunman ran away," Amirova said. "It must have been a rubber bullet. Zhanar was hurt and I immediately called for an ambulance, which came and took her to a hospital."

Amirova said police went to the hospital immediately but have not issued a statement about the incident.

Saqtaghanova's injury is not life threatening.

Thousands of workers at the Qarazhanbasmunai and OzenMunaiGaz oil and gas corporations in the town of Zhanaozen in the western Manghystau province have been on strike since May.

They are demanding a wage increase, equal rights with foreign workers, and the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent labor unions in the region.

Hundreds of strikers have been fired since the strike began. Several others have been brought to trial on charges of organizing unsanctioned mass gatherings.

A lawyer for the Qarazhanbasmunai oil company's labor unions, Natalya Sokolova, was found guilty in August of "igniting social hatred" and given a six-year jail term.

Read more in Kazakh here