Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev declared a state of emergency in the western oil city of Zhanaozen on Saturday, one day after at least 11 people died in violent clashes there.
The violence was sparked when police tried to clear a demonstration of striking state oil workers.
One eyewitness accused authorities of provocation, saying security forces shot live rounds at the unarmed workers, who have been protesting against low pay for more than seven months.
It is the country’s longest-running industrial dispute.
But opposition groups dispute the government’s death toll. They say at least 150 people have been killed.
The emergency decree bans strikes and public protests, while also restricting freedom of movement in Zhanaozen
It will last until January 5.