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Kazakh Police Arrest Ethnic Dungan Brothers Blamed For Sparking Deadly Clashes

Buildings were torched during the brawl, which left at least 11 people dead in the southern Zhambyl region of Kazakhstan.

Police in Kazakhstan's southern region of Zhambyl have arrested three ethnic Dungan brothers who allegedly were involved in a road-rage brawl thought to have triggered ethnic clashes that left 11 people dead.

The Prosecutor-General's Office said on February 18 that the three brothers from the Voingui family had been charged with assaulting police. Their case has been sent to the Qordai District Court.

Prosecutors say police stopped a car driven by one of the brothers in the village of Sortobe on February 7. They said the man was told to follow them to a nearby police station because he had failed to produce a valid driving license and registration documents for the car.

But authorities say the man refused to do so and, instead, ran inside a private house where two of his brothers were.

The Prosecutor-General's Office says all three brothers then ran out of the house and attacked the police.

Video of the clash shows the three brothers, apparently unarmed, trying to punch police officers while authorities attempt to restrain them.

The video was posted on social media by witnesses who presented the incident as being linked to a February 7 road-rage brawl between two groups of men in separate vehicles.

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Kazakh authorities said earlier that the road-rage brawl sparked wider violence between local Kazakhs and Kazakh citizens from the ethnic Dungan minority, a Muslim group of Chinese origin.

The deadly violence in the villages of Sortobe, Masanchi, Auqatty, and Bulan-Batyr left 11 people dead and dozens injured, including 19 police officers.

More than 30 houses, 17 commercial buildings, and 47 vehicles were destroyed or damaged in the ethnic clashes.

More than 20,000 people, mostly Dungans, fled villages where the violence erupted.

Many of them ended up in the neighboring Kyrgyz region of Chui, where the majority of ethnic Dungans in Central Asia reside.

Kazakh officials say the majority of the displaced Dungans returned to Kazakhstan several days later.

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

Many senior regional officials, including the local police chief, were sacked by Kazakhstan's central government in the aftermath of the clashes.

Dungans, also known as Hui, are Sunni Muslims who speak a dialect of Mandarin that also uses words and phrases borrowed from Arabic, Persian, and Turkic.

Their ancestors fled from China 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 1862-77.

The total number of Dungans now living in former Soviet republics is about 120,000.

Most reside in Kyrgyzstan's northern region of Chui and Kazakhstan's neighboring region of Zhambyl.

With reporting by Tengrinews and Kazinform
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