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.
Bishkek (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The number of victims in clashes in the city of Osh, southern Kyrgyzstan, involving police, ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks stands at 49 dead and 650 wounded. Police sources said that the rising number of casualties is due to gangs of young Kyrgyz men from other parts of the country who, armed with firearms, metal bars and sticks, marched on Uzbek neighbourhoods, clashing with police and setting homes and cars on fire. Today, Kyrgyzstan’s interim government asked Russia to send troops to end ethnic violence.

The causes of the unrest are still unknown. Osh is the second largest city in the country. It is home to a large Uzbek community, which has backed former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev who was ousted on 15 April.

"The situation in the Osh region has spun out of control," interim President Roza Otunbayeva said. "Attempts to establish a dialogue have failed, and fighting and rampages are continuing. We need outside forces to quell confrontation."

Since yesterday, Kyrgyz troops have been patrolling the city, which is under a state of emergency. However, thousands of people fled towards the border with Uzbekistan.

The unrest is the worst violence since former President Bakiyev was toppled in a bloody uprising in April and fled the country.