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  • » 05/20/2010, 00.00


    State of emergency imposed after ethnic violence kills two, wounds dozens

    Ethnic Kyrgyz, loyal to ousted President Bakiyev, attack minority Uzbeks who back the provisional government. The authorities send in the army and announce that they will stay in power until 31 December 2011.
    Bishkek (AsiaNews) – Osh, Jalal-abad and other towns in southern Kyrgyzstan have seen a flare-up in interethnic violence, with various gangs fighting in the streets. This has led the provisional government to put off presidential elections until after 31 December 2011.

    According to eyewitnesses, clashes broke out yesterday in the city of Jalal-abad after a large mob of ethnic Kyrgyz tried to storm a People’s Friendship University building, which was defended by a number of Uzbeks.

    Officially, two people were killed and 62 wounded in the street fighting around the university. Others say that the number of the injured was much higher; among them was a 5-year-old girl who was shot in the abdomen. By evening, shops and schools were closed.

    Residents also reported seeing groups of young Kyrgyz roaming the town of Jalal-abad carrying sticks and pieces of pipe, as ethnic Uzbeks armed with makeshift weapons barricaded themselves inside some apartment buildings.

    The situation has led the government to declare a state of emergency. A curfew between 10 pm and 6 pm was imposed until 1 June with army troops patrolling the streets.

    A similar measure was taken in Osh and other cities of southern Kyrgyzstan.

    President Roza Otunbayeva, who heads the provisional government, announced that presidential elections scheduled six months from now were postponed and that the interim government would remain in power until 31 December 2011.

    The authorities blame the protests on supporters of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev who was ousted last month after a popular uprising.

    According to local sources, the clashes are ethnic in nature.

    Violence broke out when ethnic Uzbeks, who back the provisional government, helped take back the Jalal-Abad provincial government headquarters from Bakiyev supporters six days ago.

    A day earlier, the latter had thrown own officials appointed by the provisional government.

    Eventually, pent-up anger among Bakiyev’s Kyrgyz supporters was unleashed yesterday.

    Yesterday's fighting conjured up memories of the ethnic conflict between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities in Uzgen, near Osh, in 1990. At the time, massive rioting left hundreds dead and caused extensive property damage.

    Acting Defence Minister Ismail Isakov and acting Interior Minister Baktybek flew to Jalal-abad to vet the situation, whilst a government spokesperson urged the press to file balanced reports.

    Officially, Uzbeks account for 776,000 of Kyrgyzstan’s 5.4 million population, but many say the number is closer to a million.

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    See also

    04/08/2010 KYRGYZSTAN
    Violence continues in southern Kyrgyzstan, Medecins sans frontières reports
    The humanitarian aid agency, which is present in the area hit by recent inter-ethnic violence, talks about the discrimination and violence ordinary people suffer. Many refuse to go to hospital for fear of arrest.

    18/06/2010 KYRGYZSTAN
    UN reports at least 400,000 refugees in Kyrgyzstan
    Refugee situation is getting worse with at least 300,000 stuck at the border with Uzbekistan. In many areas, it is hard to deliver relief suppliers. Tensions remain high in the cities, with sporadic clashes still taking place. Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva visits the southern part of the country.

    15/06/2010 KYRGYZSTAN
    Fear of humanitarian tragedy in southern part of the country
    More than 100,000 refugees pour into Uzbekistan, but Uzbek authorities close the border. Kyrgyzstan’s interim government loses control in the south, where violence and armed clashes continue unabated. There are shortages of food, drugs and power. United Nations calls for an “aid corridor”.

    12/06/2010 KYRGYZSTAN
    Violent clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks leave 49 dead and hundreds of wounded
    Gangs of young Kyrgyz have come to Osh, former President Bakiyev’s stronghold, armed with firearms, metal bars and sticks to clash with ethnic Uzbeks and police. Cars and homes are set on fire. Thousands of people are fleeing towards the border with Uzbekistan. Kyrgyz government asks Russia to send in troops to quell unrest.

    21/06/2010 KYRGYZSTAN
    Clashes with troops in Osh, more dead
    The government acknowledges two people died in clashes that broke out yesterday between Kyrgyz troops and ethnic Uzbeks in an Osh suburb. Human rights activists speak of “unacceptable” violence by the military. President Otunbayeva reiterates her government’s intention to hold a constitutional referendum next Sunday.

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