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Brawl In Kazakh Capital Leads To Street Closures As Authorities Urge Calm

The Abu Dhabi Plaza construction site (file photo)
The Abu Dhabi Plaza construction site (file photo)

Authorities in Kazakhstan's capital have closed off several streets after what police say was a brawl between construction workers from India and their Kazakh colleagues at a high-rise-tower project.

Riot police were mobilized in response to the violence, which the Interior Ministry said broke out at around 8:30 p.m. on September 2 in Astana at the Abu Dhabi Plaza construction site, located near several government buildings.

Ministry spokesman Almas Sadubaev told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service in written comments that the incident started when a worker from India who was drunk argued with a security guard who refused to let him out of the construction site.

The worker "then called his compatriots, and they beat up the security guard," Sadubaev said in written comments.

Sadubaev said that Kazakh workers came to the defense of the security guard, resulting in a brawl involving around 30 people. He said that India's ambassador to Kazakhstan arrived at the scene, as did representatives of local authorities.

He added that two people suffered minor injuries, but he did not indicate which country they were from.

"No one was killed or died," Sadubaev said.

Such incidents of public violence are rare in the capital of Kazakhstan, where authoritarian President Nursultan Nazarbaev has ruled for more than 25 years.

Videos and images of the scene showed riot police carrying batons and shields standing near a crowd of men. Numerous police vehicles were visible near the scene as well.

Authorities played down the incident. Sadubaev said it had been "fully resolved" and "was under the control of police."

He urged people "to refrain from provocations" and from "spreading false information and different kinds of rumors."

The Astana mayor's office on its website asked locals and visitors "to refrain from unnecessary comments."

Construction of the Abu Dhabi Plaza, which is to be Central Asia's tallest tower, began in 2010 and is slated for completion by 2017. The construction site has already been hit by several fires.

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    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service offers informed and accurate reporting in the Kazakh and Russian languages about issues that matter in Kazakhstan, while providing a dynamic platform for audience engagement and the free exchange of news and ideas.