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Mass brawl forces authorities to impose curfew in Australian tourist town

file photo: in australia's outback, indigenous voice proposal struggles to inspire
File photo: Alice Springs REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

Australia’s Northern Territory on Wednesday imposed a two-week youth curfew in the tourist town of Alice Springs, a day after a mass brawl involving 150 people, many of them armed with weapons.

The curfew will be in force from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. local time for those under 18 years old in the centre of the town, which has a large population of Indigenous Australians and suffers from deep social divisions.

“We want people in Alice Springs to be able to walk down the street, feel safe, be able to go to the shopping centre, pick up their kids from school and not be concerned about their own safety,” Northern Territory (NT) Chief Minister Eva Lawler told a news conference on Wednesday.

Tuesday’s violence was sparked by the death of an 18-year-old man on March 20, which led to a feud between several local families and culminated in the brawl at a pub in the centre of the town, police said.

Police made five arrests and seized 50 weapons from those involved.

“The operation will be swift. We’ll identify who’s responsible and they’ll be delivered to the court where they can answer for their behaviours,” NT Police Commissioner Michael Murphy told reporters.

Alice Springs, a remote town in Australia’s vast Outback region some 2,000 km (1,243 miles) northwest of Sydney, is the gateway to major tourist attractions including the giant red sandstone monolith of Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock.

A fifth of the 26,000 residents of Alice Springs are Indigenous Australians, who have been historically marginalised since the island continent was colonised by Great Britain in 1788.

The government has for years curbed alcohol sales in the town in a bid to reduce rampant violence and sexual abuse.

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