Astana: Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Saturday ordered a state of emergency in the Caspian town of Zhanaozen after clashes between police and laid-off oil workers killed at least 11 people.

The state of emergency will last until January 5 to "ensure public safety, rebuild law and order, and defend citizens' rights and freedoms," according to a decree posted on the President's official website.

Nazarbayev denounced the rioters as "hooligans" for attacking local residents gathered near a stage set up in the town's main square for Independence Day celebrations on Friday.

"They beat up peaceful citizens, smashed parked cars and set them on fire," he said. "One must not mix up an oil workers' labour dispute with the actions of hooligans wanting to exploit the situation for their own ends."

The violence in Zhanaozen, an oil town in Kazakhstan's southwestern Mangistau region, erupted on Friday, when oil workers stormed the stage, kicking off sound equipment and setting the Christmas tree on fire.

They proceeded to torch the town's administration building, hotels and the office of Uzenmunaigas, the local subsidiary of the oil company Kazmunaigaz.

"We will find out where this is financed from, and who is organising this," Nazarbayev said, announcing the creation of a special commission to investigate Friday’s events.

Interior Minister Kalmukhanbet Kasymov said the deadly riots involved oil workers who had been fired from Kazmunaigaz, and that the situation was now "calm".

Workers in Zhanaozen and other cities in the Mangistau region on the Caspian Sea have been on strike for months for higher wages, in a highly unusual dispute for the Central Asian state which prides itself on its ability to attract foreign investors.

The official death toll climbed from 10 to 11 on Saturday, according to the general prosecutor, while the number of wounded was 86 people. Seventy people have been arrested.

(Agencies)