A brawl and a series of clashes in several villages in Kazakhstan’s southern Zhambyl province have left eight people dead and scores wounded, Interior Minister Yerlan Turgumbayev said on Saturday.
Some 70 people were involved in the initial brawl on the outskirts of the Masanchi village, close to the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border, he told a briefing, after which 300 more people arrived from the nearby villages.
The crowd clashed with police, wounding two officers with gunshots, and torched dozens of buildings and cars. Police have detained 47 people and confiscated two hunting shotguns, Turgumbayev said.
Police and the National Guard now have the situation under control, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said in a statement, ordering the government to take steps to maintain calm in the villages.
The area where the clashes took place is home to many members of the Dungan minority group, Muslims of Chinese ethnic origin.
Tokayev urged a thorough investigation and instructed security agencies to prosecute those spreading ethnic hate speech, “provocative rumors and disinformation”.
Dauren Abayev, Minister of Information and Public Accord, told a briefing the authorities have temporarily closed a large outdoor merchandise market in Almaty, the largest city in the nation of 19 million, after “calls for violence” there.