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Death Toll In Ethnic Clashes In Kazakhstan's South Rises To 11

Kazakh riot police close to the village of Masanchi, where many of the clashes occurred.

ZHAMBYL, Kazakhstan -- The death toll in violent ethnic clashes last week between Kazakhs and ethnic Dungans in Kazakhstan's south, which shocked the Central Asian nation, has risen to 11.

Qanat Qulshymanov, an adviser to the governor of the Zhambyl region where the clashes took place, said on February 13 that the badly burned body of an unidentified person had been found two days earlier amid the debris of a commercial building destroyed during clashes in the village of Masanchi.

"Special forensic works are under way to identify the person," Qulshymanov said.

The violence erupted on February 7 between local Kazakhs and ethnic Dungans, a Muslim group of Chinese origin, in the villages of Masanchi, Sortobe, Auqatty, and Bulan-Batyr.

Dozens were wounded, including 19 police officers, while more than 30 houses, 17 commercial buildings, and 47 vehicles were destroyed or damaged in the clashes.

Kazakh officials have said that the violence was sparked by a conflict on a highway, during which the occupants of two vehicles started a brawl following a road-rage incident. The deadly clashes followed the posting on the Internet of video footage taken from the brawl.

Thousands of people fled villages where the violence erupted, ending up in the neighboring Kyrgyz Chui region, where the majority of ethnic Dungans in Central Asia traditionally reside.

Who Are The Dungans Of Central Asia?
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Berdibek Saparbaev, who replaced the region's governor after the clashes, said on February 11 that some 8,000 Kazakh citizens who fled the area to Kyrgyzstan had returned to Kazakhstan following a call from the Kazakh government.

It is not clear how many Dungans from Kazakhstan remain in Kyrgyzstan.

Many top officials in the region were replaced following the clashes.

Dungans, also known as Hui, are Sunni Muslims who speak a dialect of Mandarin with many words and phrases borrowed from Arabic, Persian, and Turkic. Their ancestors came to Central Asia, which then was part of the Russian Empire, in the late-19th century after the Chinese government’s violent crackdown of the Dungan Revolt of 1862-1877.

The number of Dungans living in the former Soviet Union is about 120,000, most of whom reside in Kyrgyzstan's northern region of Chui and the neighboring Kazakh region of Zhambyl.

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