Asia

Kazakhstan: Refugees flee after ethnic clashes kill 10

Dungan refugees leaving the village of Bular-Batyr Image copyright EPA
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Many refugees are crossing the Kazakhstan border into neighbouring Kyrgyzstan after clashes between two ethnic groups, reports say.

At least 10 people have died and 39 people were hospitalised following rioting in the Jambyl region on Friday.

It is not yet known what sparked the violence, which pitted Kazakhs against Dungans, a Muslim group of Chinese origin.

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ungan refugees leave the village of Bular-Batyr after ethnic clashes between Kazakhs and Dungans, some 250 km from Almaty, Kazakhstan, 08 February 2020. Image copyright EPA
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An eyewitness in Kyrgyzstan told Reuters news agency he saw many people cross the border to meet relatives on the other side.

"They meet those who cross the border and take them to their homes. It's mostly women, children and the elderly," they said.

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Dungan refugees leave the village of Bular-Batyr Image copyright EPA
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Authorities said dozens of people were initially involved in the clashes, but that number rose to 300 after calls were said to have gone out on social media.

Images from the area show several buildings and cars torched.

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View of burnt houses and property in the village of Masanchi Image copyright EPA
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Firefighters douse the remaining fire in burnt houses and property in the village of Blas-Batyr Image copyright EPA
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On Saturday, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said the violence had ended.

The village of Masanchi, thought to be the epicentre of the clash, is still under armed guard.

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Kazakh riot police near the village of Masanchi Image copyright EPA
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An AFP reporter in Masanchi said there were few people out on the streets.

Deputy Interior Minister Aleksei Kalaichidi said the incident escalated due to "provocateurs and eyewitnesses who filmed the incident on video and then sent it with various comments via social networks".

Five police officers were injured in the clashes, including three from gunshot wounds, he added.

The authorities closed a large market in the city of Almaty due to a risk of further violence, Information Minister Dauren Abayev said.

Kazakhstan's foreign ministry says "over 100 ethnic groups are living in peace" in the country.

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