BAKU, Azerbaijan — A minor car accident Wednesday night in the resort town of Ismayilli ended up with a hotel being burned to the ground and several expensive vehicles torched.
The episode has exposed latent tensions nurtured by economic inequality and unresponsive governance in the oil-abundant Azerbaijan.
Trouble began when the owner of a hotel reacted to his sports car veering onto a sidewalk and colliding with an electricity pole by getting into a fight with another motorist. The owner, who police said might have been drunk, berated and swore at onlookers, prompting an angry reaction from Ismayilli residents.
The dispute escalated, leading to around 3,000 people raiding the owner’s hotel and torching several of his cars.