Thousands rioted Sunday in Moscow, bashing in the doors and windows of a shopping centre and beating up security guards in a nationalist protest sparked by a murder blamed on a migrant.

The crowd, chanting "Russia for Russians", also beat down the doors of a nearby vegetable warehouse where many immigrants were working, an AFP photographer reported.

The rioters were mostly young and included extreme nationalists, witnesses quoted by the radio station Echo of Moscow said.

They threw bottles at special forces, who had arrived in 10 buses to quell the riot, detaining around 200, according to police.

The riot in Moscow's southern Biryulyovo district broke out over the killing Thursday of a 25-year-old local man who was stabbed to death as his fiancee watched.

The murderer fled the scene but was caught on surveillance cameras that suggested he could have been from Central Asia or the Caucasus.

"Every measure will be taken to stop the criminal... the best investigators have been assigned to the case," district police chief Alexandre Polovinko said at the scene of the protest.

Moscow police said they had opened a "hooliganism" enquiry into the rioting.

In recent years, hundreds of thousands of migrants have come to Russia from impoverished, Muslim-majority states of the former Soviet Union such as Tajikistan, often working as street cleaners or on construction sites.

They frequently endure poor labour and living conditions and are increasingly regarded with disdain by many Muscovites.

[Image via AFP]