News Governor resigns, police chief dismissed after Kazakh clashes

Governor resigns, police chief dismissed after Kazakh clashes

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© REUTERS / Hannibal Hanschke
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on a file photo

ALMATY, February 10 (Reuters) – Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev on Monday accepted the resignation of the governor of the southern province of Shambyl, in which 10 people were killed in ethnic clashes last week.

Tokayev appointed Berdibek Saparbayev, previously Deputy Prime Minister, as the new governor to replace Askar Myrzakhmetov. The president also fired a deputy governor and the provincial police chief.

The incident, sparked by a dispute over a right of way, resulted in a fight between ethnic Kazakhs and Dungans, a minority with Chinese roots, followed by a night rampage that set fire to dozens of buildings and cars.

Although the violence ended on Saturday morning, the atmosphere on Monday remained tense. Some Kazakhs expressed their support for those who attacked the Dungans and accused the officials of being biased towards the minority, although many others were pushing for reconciliation.

Tokayev had previously blamed “provocateurs” for the violence, who used an act of hooliganism to cause greater violence, and said the local authorities would be punished for not preventing this.

Dozens of people were injured in the conflict and many Dungan fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan the following day. In Almaty, the largest city in the former Soviet Republic, the police arrested more than 40 people and closed large markets to prevent further clashes. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Alex Richardson and Angus MacSwan)

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