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Roads To Kazakh Village Closed After Alleged Interethnic Clash Among Residents

Kazakh police have blocked all entrances to the village of Baydibek-biy after an alleged interethnic incident, local media reported, citing eyewitnesses and local residents.

Authorities are also urging villagers not to leave their homes following the clash on August 16, the Vlast news website reported from Baydibek-biy, home to both ethnic Kazakhs and ethnic Chechens.

Local officials, however, denied reports of the incident in Baydibek-biy, where the two groups have previously clashed, most notably in 2007 when three people died in the violence.

“There is no interethnic clash in [Baydibek-biy]. No police are deployed there and the village remains open,” the regional police office told local media.

Some 50 people were detained in the 2007 violence that began with an argument between two young men – an ethnic Chechen and a Kazakh -- in a local billiard hall. The dispute quickly turned into a clash involving at least 180 people.

Baydibek-biy, previously known as Malovodnoye, is located some 70 kilometers northeast of Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan.

The Central Asian nation, which has more than 100 ethnic groups, has seen a rise in interethnic conflicts in recent years.

In February, clashes between ethnic Dungans and Kazakhs left 11 people dead near the town of Kordai in the southern Zhambyl Province. Thousands of ethnic Dungans fled across the border to Kyrgyzstan during that conflict.

Previous ethnic tensions in Kazakhstan include a clash between ethnic Kazakhs and Tajiks in the Turkistan provincial village of Bostandyk in February 2015.

Authorities often try to downplay the ethnic element in such conflicts and seek to attribute them to “social issues.”

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