37 killed, 500 hurt in new wave of Kyrgyz unrest - U2 Feedback

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Old 06-11-2010, 11:19 AM   #1
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37 killed, 500 hurt in new wave of Kyrgyz unrest

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37 killed, 500 hurt in new wave of Kyrgyz unrest



BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Mobs of armed men torched Uzbek neighborhoods in southern Kyrgyzstan on Friday in ethnic clashes that officials said left at least 37 people dead and over 500 wounded. A state of emergency was declared in the Central Asian nation that hosts U.S. and Russian military bases.

The rioting in Osh, the country's second-largest city, is the heaviest violence since former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was toppled in a bloody uprising in April and fled the country.

The intensity of the conflict, which pits ethnic Kyrgyz against minority Uzbeks, appears to have taken authorities by surprise and has thrown the fragile interim government's prospects for survival into doubt.

Quelling the violence will prove a decisive test of the government's ability to control the country, hold a June 27 vote on a new constitution and go ahead with new parliamentary elections scheduled for October.

Dozens of buildings across Osh were ablaze Friday after witnesses reported sustained gunfire beginning late Thursday. Gangs of young men armed with metal bars and stones attacked shops and set cars alight.

The interim government declared a state of emergency Friday in Osh and dispatched armored vehicles, troops and helicopters to pacify the situation. Soldiers were posted at routes into the city and at major intersections, but fighting had not abated by Friday evening and authorities imposed a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. until June 20.

Ikram Abdumalitov, who lives in Osh, said around 1,000 young and armed Kyrgyz men were marching toward Uzbek neighborhoods eastern Osh.

"The Uzbeks are in turn chopping down trees and blocking the road to their neighborhood," Abdumalitov said.

Armed men were arriving from nearby villages to join the fight, a trader said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the dangerous situation.

"I have just driven through the city and the streets are filled with young men brandishing sticks, armor and weapons," said Bakyt Omorkulov, a member of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, a non-governmental group.

He said Uzbek areas were especially hard hit by the violence.

"Aravan street is completely destroyed, dozens of cafes and buildings are burning — it's the same picture in Cheryomushki. It's like being in Chechnya," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Many of the injured were being treated for stabbing and gunshot wounds, Health Ministry spokeswoman Yelena Bailinova said, giving the death toll. Dozens were reported in serious condition.

A doctor at a hospital in Osh said the final death toll could climb sharply as many Uzbeks were too afraid to seek treatment.

"All the beds in this hospital are full, but 90 percent of the people being treated are Kyrgyz, because Uzbeks are afraid of the Kyrgyz victims' relatives, who are in an extremely aggressive frame of mind," the doctor said. He spoke on condition on anonymity, as he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Smaller-scale ethnic violence also broke out Friday evening in the capital, Bishkek, where a mob of Kyrgyz men attacked and robbed ethnic Uzbeks at a popular bazaar.

In an emotional televised address Friday, interim President Roza Otunbayeva called for a return to calm.

"I would like to appeal in particular to the women of Kyrgyzstan. Dear sisters, find the right words for your sons, husbands and brothers. In the current situation, it is unacceptable to indulge in feelings of revenge and anger," she said.

At a security summit in neighboring Uzbekistan, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev both expressed concern over fighting and promised to help Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet republic of 5 million people, restore order.

"We are really interested in seeing Kyrgyzstan overcome the stage of internal upheaval as quickly as possible and solve the task of forming a modern government capable of tackling acute problems of socio-economic development," Medvedev said.

Bakiyev is believed to be in exile in Belarus, but interim authorities accuse his supporters of trying to foment unrest to undermine their control and derail the upcoming referendum and parliamentary election.

Kyrgyzstan hosts the Manas U.S. military air base in Bishkek, a crucial support center supplying forces fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bakiyev's government vowed to close the base last year, but later agreed to let U.S. forces stay after raising the rent to $63 million from $17 million.

In recent weeks, operations at the Manas base have been hindered by a dispute over the interim government's decision to tax fuel sold to the base. The U.S. military says it has stopped refueling tanker planes at Manas while the fuel prices are being renegotiated, but flights to ferry military personnel and supplies to and from Afghanistan have continued.

___

Peter Leonard reported from Almaty, Kazakhstan.
37 killed, 500 hurt in new wave of Kyrgyz unrest - Yahoo! News
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Old 06-11-2010, 03:13 PM   #2
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I have been watching this
there are other hot spots in other new countries, formed out of the USSR break up.

these are terror tactics, do we have a standard for dealing with terror?
do they need some drones over head, to launch some missiles at these bad actors?

Do Russia and/or China now have cover for launching drones?
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Old 06-12-2010, 07:47 PM   #3
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Ethnic riots sweep Kyrgyzstan, govt begs for help



By SASHA MERKUSHEV and LEILA SARALAYEVA, Associated Press Writers Sasha Merkushev And Leila Saralayeva, Associated Press Writers – 1 hr 55 mins ago
OSH, Kyrgyzstan – Ethnic riots wracked southern Kyrgyzstan on Saturday, forcing thousands of Uzbeks to flee as their homes were torched by roving mobs of Kyrgyz men. The interim government begged Russia for troops to stop the violence, but the Kremlin offered only humanitarian assistance.

At least 77 people were reported killed and more than 1,000 wounded in the violence spreading across the impoverished Central Asian nation that hosts U.S. and Russian air bases.

Much of its second-largest city, Osh, was on fire Saturday and the sky overhead was black with smoke. Roving mobs of young Kyrgyz men armed with firearms and metal bars marched on minority Uzbek neighborhoods and set homes on fire, forcing thousands of Uzbeks to flee. Stores were looted and the city was running out of food.

Kyrgyzstan's third straight day of rioting also engulfed another major southern city, Jalal-Abad, where a rampaging mob burned a university, besieged a police station and seized an armored vehicle and other weapons from a local military unit.

"It's a real war," said local political leader Omurbek Suvanaliyev. "Everything is burning, and bodies are lying on the streets."

Those driven from their homes rushed toward the border with Uzbekistan, and an Associated Press reporter there saw the bodies of children trampled to death in the panicky stampede. Crowds of frightened women and children made flimsy bridges out of planks and ladders to cross the ditches marking the border.

Interim President Roza Otunbayeva acknowledged that her government has lost control over Osh, a city of 250,000, even though it sent troops, armor and helicopters to quell the riots. Violence spread to the nearby city of Jalal-Abad later Saturday.

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

Otunbayeva asked Russia early Saturday to send in troops, but the Kremlin said it would not meddle into what it described as Kyrgyzstan's internal conflict.

"It's a domestic conflict, and Russia now doesn't see conditions for taking part in its settlement," Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said in Moscow. She added that Russia will discuss with other members of a security pact of ex-Soviet nations about the possibility of sending a joint peacekeeping force to Kyrgyzstan.

Timakova said Russia would send a plane to Kyrgyzstan to deliver humanitarian supplies and help evacuate victims of the violence.

Russia has about 500 troops at a base in Kyrgyzstan, mostly air force personnel. The United States has the Manas air base in the capital, Bishkek, a crucial supply hub for the coalition fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Kyrgyzstan's interim government spokesman, Farid Niyazov, refused to say whether the country would turn to the U.S. for military help after Russia had refused. "Russia is our main strategic partner," he said.

In Washington, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said he was unaware of any requests for help by Kyrgyzstan.

The riots are the worst violence since former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was toppled in a bloody uprising in April and fled the country. The violence is a crucial test of the interim government's ability to control the country, hold a June 27 vote on a new constitution and go ahead with new parliamentary elections scheduled for October.

Otunbayeva on Saturday blamed Bakiyev's family for instigating the unrest in Osh, saying they aimed to derail the constitutional referendum.

Maksat Zheinbekov, the acting mayor of Jalal-Abad, said in a telephone interview that Bakiyev's supporters in his home region started the riots by attacking both Uzbek and Kyrgyz. The rampaging mob quickly grew in size from several hundred to thousands, and automatic gunfire rang over the city, he said.

Ethnic tensions have long simmered in the Ferghana Valley, split by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's whimsically carved borders among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

In 1990, hundreds of people were killed in a violent land dispute between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh, and only the quick deployment of Soviet troops quelled the fighting. Both ethnic groups are predominantly Sunni Muslim.

Moscow has competed with Washington for influence in strategically placed Central Asia and pushed for the withdrawal of the U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan. But the Kremlin's refusal to send troops indicated that it's much more reluctant to get involved in the turbulent region's affairs than its assertive policy statements had suggested.

The official casualty toll Saturday rose to at least 77 people dead and 1,024 wounded, the Health Ministry said. The real figures may be much higher, because doctors and human rights workers said ethnic Uzbeks were too afraid to seek hospital treatment.

Witnesses said that many bodies were lying in the streets of Osh and more were scattered inside the burned buildings. As Uzbek refugees, mostly women and children, fled the city toward the border, they were shot at and many were killed, witnesses said.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had received reports of tens of thousands people fleeing the fighting and looting.

"Things are getting worse and worse by the hour," Severine Chappaz, the deputy head of the ICRC's mission in Kyrgyzstan, said in a statement from Osh. "The electricity and gas have been cut off, meaning there are also no water supplies. Shops and markets are closed, leading to fears of a lack of food, especially in the hospitals and places of detention."

At a hospital near Osh airport, an AP photographer saw the bodies of 10 people killed in fighting, and a health worker said a pregnant woman also died of gunshot wounds.

In mainly Uzbek areas on the edge of Osh, residents painted the letters "SOS" on the road in a futile bid for help from the violence that began late Thursday.

Otunbayeva said there were food shortages in Osh after virtually all stores were looted or shut down. A state of emergency and a curfew was declared Friday around the city.

"Young men in white masks are marauding and stealing from the remaining stores, offices and houses, and then setting them on fire," said Bakyt Omorkulov, a member of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, a non-governmental organization.

Omorkulov said terrified Uzbeks begged him for help, saying their houses were on fire. "They called us and were sobbing into the phone, but what can we do?" Omorkulov said.

At the Osh airport, hundreds of arriving passengers were stranded and fire from heavy machine guns and automatic weapons was heard as troops tried to gain control of roads into the city. An elite police force of 100 officers from Bishkek arrived late Saturday.

"Our task is to restore the constitutional order," said the group's leader, Nur Mambetaliyev.

In Bishkek, the interim government announced a partial mobilization of military reservists and allowed police and the troops to shoot to kill while acting to end rioting.

___

Saralayeva reported from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. AP Writer Vladimir Isachenkov also contributed from Moscow.
Ethnic riots sweep Kyrgyzstan, govt begs for help - Yahoo! News
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Old 06-12-2010, 07:52 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by deep View Post
I have been watching this
there are other hot spots in other new countries, formed out of the USSR break up.

these are terror tactics, do we have a standard for dealing with terror?
do they need some drones over head, to launch some missiles at these bad actors?

Do Russia and/or China now have cover for launching drones?
This is an ethnic conflict and large numbers of troops are needed to end or contain the violence. Drones over certain area's might be useful for intelligence, but a few drone strikes will not do much in a conflict like this. The population must be protected and those engaged in violence must be stopped. That takes large numbers of troops on the ground and Kyrgyzstan has requested Russian troops, but the Russians are not willing to get involved at this time.
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Old 06-13-2010, 12:25 PM   #5
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75,000 Uzbeks flee ethnic riots in Kyrgyzstan

By SASHA MERKUSHEV and YURAS KARMANAU, Associated Press Writers Sasha Merkushev And Yuras Karmanau, Associated Press Writers – 25 mins ago
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyz mobs burned Uzbek villages and slaughtered their residents Sunday in the worst ethnic rioting this Central Asian nation has seen in 20 years, sending more than 75,000 Uzbeks fleeing across the border into Uzbekistan.

Most of the Uzbek refugees were elderly people, women and children, and many had gunshot wounds, the Uzbek Emergencies Ministry said in a statement carried by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency. It said refugee camps were being set up for them in several areas of Uzbekistan.

Fires set by rioters have destroyed most of Osh, the second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, and food was scarce after widespread looting. Triumphant crowds of Kyrgyz men took control of Osh on Sunday as the few Uzbeks still left in the city of 250,000 barricaded themselves in their neighborhoods. Fires continued to rage across Osh and shots were heard but police were nowhere to be seen.

The rioting has significant political overtones. Former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in a bloody uprising in April and fled the country. Uzbeks have backed Kyrgyzstan's interim government, while many Kyrgyz in the south support the toppled president.

Interim President Roza Otunbayeva blamed Bakiyev's family for instigating the unrest, saying it aimed to derail a June 27 constitutional referendum and new elections scheduled for October. A local official in the south said Bakiyev supporters had attacked both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks to ignite the rioting.

From his self-imposed exile in Belarus, Bakiyev denied any role in the violence and blamed interim authorities for failing to protect the people.

The interim government has ordered troops to shoot rioters dead but even that failed to stop the spiraling violence that has left more than 100 people dead and over 1,250 wounded since Thursday night. Doctors say that toll is far too low because wounded minority Uzbeks are too afraid of being attacked again to go to hospitals.

The rampages spread quickly Sunday to Jalal-Abad, another major southern city, and its neighboring villages, as mobs methodically set Uzbek houses, stores and cafes on fire. The rioters seized an armored vehicle and automatic weapons at a local military unit and attacked police stations around the region trying to get more firearms.

Police and the military appeared to be on the defensive across the south, avoiding clashes with mobs. Flights to both Osh and Jalal-Abad were canceled.

"Bakiyev's entourage has funded and organized these riots," Otunbayeva's deputy Omurbek Tekebayev told The Associated Press.

Kyrgyzstan hosts both U.S. and Russian military air bases, but they are in the north, away from the rioting. Otunbayeva had asked Russia for military help Saturday to quell the rioting, but the Kremlin refused.

But Russia on Sunday sent a battalion of paratroopers — about 300 people — to reinforce security at its air base, the Interfax news agency reported. The base has about 500 personnel, most air force members.

The U.S. Manas air base in the capital, Bishkek, is a crucial supply hub for the coalition fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, but a Pentagon spokesman said the interim government had not asked for any U.S. military help.

The U.S. Embassy in Kyrgyzstan voiced a deep concern about the raging violence and called for the "immediate restoration of order and a respect for rule of law." It said it was discussing humanitarian aid with the interim government.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "alarmed by the scale of the clashes" and the mounting death toll and was discussing what aid the U.N. could send to help the fleeing refugees.

Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry condemned the riots and voiced hope that Kyrgyzstan will re-establish order, but the country's authoritarian President Islam Karimov is unlikely to interfere in the conflict.

In Jalal-Abad on Sunday, thousands of Kyrgyz men brandishing sticks, metals bars and hunting rifles marched together to burn Uzbek property while frightened police stayed away. Uzbeks felled trees on the city's main street, trying to block their advance. Jalal-Abad is 45 miles (70 kilometers) from Osh.

Kyrgyz mobs tried to storm the city's hospital, but Uzbeks drove them off after a fierce gunbattle that raged for hours, witnesses said. Mobs also surrounded a local prison, trying to free its inmates and attempted repeatedly to capture the Jalal-Abad police headquarters, but were repelled.

Kyrgyz mobs killed about 30 Uzbeks Sunday in the village of Suzak in the Jalal-Abad region, Talaaibek Myrzabayev, the chief military conscription officer in Bishkek, told the AP. Another Uzbek village, Dostuk, was burned by Kyrgyz assailants, but it was not known how many people were killed, he said.

Ethnic Uzbeks ambushed about 100 Kyrgyz men Sunday on a road near Jalal-Abad and took them hostage, he said. Vehicles on the main highway near Jalal-Abad repeatedly came under fire from unidentified gunmen.

In the nearby village of Bazar-Kurgan, a mob of 400 Uzbeks overturned cars and killed a police captain, local Asyl Tekebayev said. Residents said armed Kyrgyz men were flooding into the village to retaliate.

The fertile Ferghana Valley where Osh and Jalal-Abad are located once belonged to a single feudal lord, but it was split by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Stalinist borders rekindled old rivalries and fomented ethnic tensions.

Both ethnic groups are predominantly Sunni Muslim. Uzbeks are generally better off economically, but they have few representatives in power and have pushed for broader political and cultural rights.

In 1990, hundreds were killed in a violent land dispute between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in Osh, and only the quick deployment of Soviet troops quelled the fighting. With no Russian troops in sight, the interim government announced a partial mobilization of military reservists up to 50 years old.

"No one is rushing to help us, so we need to establish order ourselves," said Talaaibek Adibayev, a 39-year old army veteran who showed up at Bishkek's military conscription office.

The official casualty toll Sunday rose to at least 97 people killed and 1,243 wounded, the Health Ministry said. The figure didn't include the 30 or more deaths Sunday around Jalal-Abad.

Maksat Zheinbekov, the acting mayor of Jalal-Abad, told the AP that Bakiyev's supporters had triggered the riots by attacking both Uzbeks and Kyrgyz.

Kyrgyz residents interviewed by AP Television News in Osh blamed Uzbeks for starting the rioting by attacking students and Kyrgyz women. Ethnic Kyrgyz from neighboring villages then streamed into the city to strike back, they said.

"Why have them Uzbeks become so brazen?" said one Osh resident, who gave only her first name, Aigulia, because she feared for her safety. "Why do they burn my house?"

Aigulia said her house was destroyed by Uzbeks overnight and all her Kyrgyz neighbors had to run for their safety. She said the area was still unsafe, claiming Uzbek snipers were shooting at them.

A Kyrgyz man, Iskander, said he and others burned Uzbek property to avenge their attacks.

"Whatever you see over there — all the burnt restaurants and cafeterias — were owned by them and we destroyed them on purpose," he told the AP. "Why didn't they want to live in peace?"

_____

Leila Saralayeva reported from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Associated Press Writer Yuras Karmanau in Bishkek contributed to this report.
75,000 Uzbeks flee ethnic riots in Kyrgyzstan - Yahoo! News
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:19 AM   #6
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Stalin's harvest

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Stalin's harvest

Violence in Kyrgyzstan

What lies behind the violence in Kyrgyzstan
Jun 14th 2010 | ALMATY

CLASHES in southern Kyrgyzstan have spiraled out of control. Thus far 118 people have been confirmed dead, a further 1,500 as injured, and tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks have fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan. The number of those killed over the past four days are without a doubt significantly higher than these estimates suggest. Local Muslim custom requires that the dead are buried within 24 hours. Many people are burying family members immediately without registering their deaths.

Although Uzbeks make up only 15% of Kyrgyzstan’s population of 5.4m, most of them live in the southern part of the country, where they make up the majority. The Fergana Valley, where most of the killing happened, was divided arbitrarily by Stalin in the 1920s among Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. As a result, the Kyrgyz Soviet republic was left with a sizeable Uzbek population, the Uzbek Soviet republic with a Tajik population, and so on. While the Soviet Union existed and the republics were part of the same country, this made little practical difference. But when the Soviet Union fell apart, these artificially created borders became final, separating newly independent states and fomenting ethnic tensions.

The interim government has been powerless to put an end to the violence. Roza Otunbayeva, the acting president said that the country needed outside help and appealed to Russia to send peacekeeping troops. Security officers were given shoot-to-kill orders. The Russian government initially responded that the violence was an internal affair for Kyrgyzstan to handle on its own and agreed only to send humanitarian aid. A day later Russia dispatched paratroopers to secure its Kant military base in the northern part of the country. The United States also has an air base in the north, but has not been invited to intervene with its military forces.

The cause of the rampage involving Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks, which began in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city, remains unclear. Observers believe that the events were orchestrated by individuals taking advantage of long-standing tensions between the two ethnic groups. The interim government has blamed ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his supporters. It says they instigated the unrest to prevent a national referendum on its proposal for a new constitution, which was scheduled to be held on June 27th. Mr Bakiyev, who was ousted in a popular uprising in April and now lives in exile, has rejected the charge.

This wave of violence has been shaped by politics. Mr Bakiyev hails from the south of the country. His stronghold was in Jalal-Abad, where he still has many supporters. Ethnic Uzbeks, who play almost no role in Kyrgyzstan’s public life—whether in government, regional administrations, or the military—have tended to prefer the interim government, which has set its sights on turning Kyrgyzstan away from authoritarian presidential rule to a parliamentary republic.

Whatever the cause, the fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks has been ferocious. Some eye witnesses claim that the army, which consists mainly of ethnic Kyrgyz, has sided with its kin. Violence spread to Jalal-Abad over the weekend. Although atrocities appear to have been committed by both sides, the Kyrgyz quickly gained the upper hand. Uzbek houses have been looted and set on fire—plumes of smoke are visible for many miles around—women have reportedly been raped, and armed Kyrgyz gangs have been harassing and shooting at Uzbeks. Gas was shut off in much of Osh, as was electricity in some quarters. Shops have been ransacked and food has become scarce.

Many ethnic Uzbeks, mostly women, children and the elderly, have fled the city to the nearby border with Uzbekistan, looking for safety. According to official Uzbek figures, 32,000 people have so far crossed the border and now live in make-shift tents. Unofficially, at least 75,000 people are believed to have fled the country. An NGO based in Uzbekistan says that there are already more than 200,000 Uzbek refugees sheltering there.

“It is a human-rights disaster in every respect,” says Andrea Berg, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, a New York-based organisation, who happened to be in Osh when the rioting started. She says she received many desperate phone calls from people unable to get out of the city because of blockades erected by Kyrgyz gangs. Those Uzbek women and children who made it are now gathering in different villages along the border and do not know what has happened to their husbands, brothers and fathers.

The current clashes are the worst ethnic violence in Central Asia in 20 years. In June 1990 clashes between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in the Osh region left several hundred people dead. That conflict was resolved through the quick deployment of Soviet troops. Its suppression was enforced by Askar Akayev, who ruled as Kyrgyzstan's president until 2005, when the “tulip revolution” saw him replaced by Mr Bakiyev.
Violence in Kyrgyzstan: Stalin's harvest | The Economist
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Old 06-15-2010, 11:48 AM   #7
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Red Cross: 'several hundred' dead in Kyrgyz unrest

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Red Cross: 'several hundred' dead in Kyrgyz unrest

By YURAS KARMANAU and SERGEI GRITS, Assocaited Press Writer Yuras Karmanau And Sergei Grits, Assocaited Press Writer – 1 hr 28 mins ago
OSH, Kyrgyzstan – Rioting has killed at least several hundred people in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan, the Red Cross said Tuesday, as new reports strengthened suspicions that the violence was deliberately ignited to undermine the interim government.

The southern part of the impoverished Central Asian nation has been convulsed by days of rioting targeting minority Uzbeks, which has left the country's second-largest city, Osh, in smoldering ruins and sent over 100,000 Uzbeks fleeing for their lives to neighboring Uzbekistan.

The International Committee of the Red Cross had no precise figure of the dead, but spokesman Christian Cardon said "we are talking about several hundreds." That figure is significantly higher than the current official estimate.

Uzbekistan closed the border Tuesday, leaving many camped out on the Kyrgyz side or stranded behind barbed-wire fences in no-man's land.

Kyrgyzstan's interim government, which took over when former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in an April uprising, has accused Bakiyev's family of instigating the violence to halt a June 27 referendum on a new constitution. Uzbeks have mostly backed the interim government, while many Kyrgyz in the south have supported Bakiyev. From self-imposed exile in Belarus, Bakiyev has denied any ties to the violence.

Interim President Roza Otunbayeva insisted again Tuesday that Bakiyev supporters stoked the conflict.

"Many instigators have been detained and they are giving evidence on Bakiyev's involvement in the events. No one has doubts that he is involved," she said.

Rupert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told reporters in Geneva there was evidence the violence was coordinated and began with five simultaneous attacks in Osh by men wearing ski masks. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also said the fighting "appears to be orchestrated, targeted and well-planned" and urged authorities to act before it spread further.

Kyrgyz deputy security chief Kubat Baibalov said Tuesday that a trained group of men from neighboring Tajikistan drove around in a car with tinted windows opening fire on both Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in Osh last week to spark violence between the two groups.

"They were employed by people close to the Bakiyev family who have been expelled from power," Baibalov said. He gave no further details.


The government said earlier that suspects from Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan had been detained and told authorities they were hired by Bakiyev supporters to start the rioting.

Bakiyev's younger son, Maxim, was arrested Monday in Britain, Kyrgyz security chief Kenishbek Duishebayev said. Prosecutors allege that companies he owned avoided almost $80 million in taxes on aviation fuel sold to suppliers of the U.S. air base near the capital of Bishkek. Bakiyev's regime faced widespread allegations of corruption.

The region around Osh is also known as a key hub for drugs flowing out of Afghanistan.

The United Nations and the European Union, meanwhile, urged Kyrgyzstan not to let the ethnic violence derail a June 27 constitutional referendum and parliamentary elections scheduled for October.

"The referendum and the elections must be held at the announced times" so Kyrgyzstan moves further toward democracy, U.N. representative Miroslav Jenca said in the capital, Bishkek. The EU backs this position, according to Germany's ambassador to Kyrgyzstan, Holger Green.

Yet the scale of the damage was so vast in the south it was hard to see how a legitimate vote could be held in less than two weeks. Up to 200,000 people have fled violence within Kyrgyzstan just since Thursday, UN refugee agency spokesman Andrej Mahecic said in Geneva.

An AP photographer in the southern town of Nariman, near Osh, saw 10 buses and trucks filled with Uzbek refugees heading toward the border Tuesday in just 10 minutes.

At a Nariman hospital, dozens of wounded Uzbeks lay in corridors and broken beds. Many at the hospital, which was out of medical supplies for a sixth day, claim the rampages had been premeditated.

"Well-armed people who were obviously well prepared for this conflict were shooting at us," said Teymurat Yuldashev, 26, who had bullet wounds in his arm and chest of different caliber. "They were organized, with weapons, militants and snipers. They simply destroyed us."

Deadly rampages in the country's south began late Thursday, as mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz torched homes and businesses of ethnic Uzbeks. Many sections of Osh, a city of 250,000, have burned to the ground since then, and the rampages have spread into surrounding towns and regions.

Tens of thousands of Uzbeks are now in makeshift accommodation in 30 different refugee camps in Uzbekistan. Several camps were centered in the eastern city of Andijan.

Several thousand refugees were waiting in squalid conditions Tuesday near one border crossing on the Kyrgyz side some five kilometers from Osh, with more people arriving by the hour.

Early Tuesday, heavy rainstorms soaked makeshift tents made from carpets and people's few possessions, and the air filled with the sound of crying women and children.

"There is no humanitarian assistance, no water, this is worse than living like an animal," said Fedya Okramov, 21, one of 10 family members who had taken refuge under a tree.

The ICRC said Uzbekistan was overwhelmed by the flood of refugees, which had far exceeded the 30,000 that were expected. The number being let through had slowed in recent days and Uzbekistan closed its borders Tuesday. It was unclear when or if it would be reopened.

Clashes continued in and around Osh on Tuesday, regional police chief Omurbek Suvanaliyev told The Associated Press.

Interior Ministry troops were patrolling the nearby city of Jalal-Abad, but city spokeswoman Klaya Tapkeyeva said she did not consider the town safe.

The Health Ministry on Tuesday said the death toll from the clashes has reached 171, with nearly 1,800 injured. But Otunbayeva acknowledged that the number of dead had to be higher, due to the Muslim tradition of burying the dead the same day.

In addition, many Uzbek refugees arrived in Uzbekistan with gunshot wounds and said they were shot at by snipers as they tried to escape the violence.

_____

Yuras Karmanau reported from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where Associated Press reporter Leila Saralayeva also contributed reporting.
Red Cross: 'several hundred' dead in Kyrgyz unrest - Yahoo! News
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Old 06-15-2010, 03:17 PM   #8
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Yes, I think the count is being under reported
Why is this happening?
the Uzbeks and Kyrgyz are both Sunni Muslims

Is the deposed leader, that is in exile, instigating it? Who gains from this unrest? What is the goal? Will it lead to a war with Uzbekistan?
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Old 06-16-2010, 01:32 PM   #9
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Yes, I think the count is being under reported
Why is this happening?
This is not the first time there has been ethnic fighting in this area between Kyrgyzs and Uzbeks. 20 years ago ethnic fighting broke out, but the Soviet Army was there to stop the violence and restore order.

Kyrgyzstan's military and police force seems to be too small and weak to handle the problem quickly.

As to why this episode of violence started in the first place, there is a lot of finger pointing, but a good case could be made that it has to do with the recently deposed leader who is currently living in Belarus who may want to influence or stop the voting on a new constitution.

I don't think it would lead to war with Uzbekistan. Although Uzbekistan is the largest and perhaps most powerful of the 5 central Asian countries that are former Republics of the Soviet Union, Uzbekistan only has a total military force of 55,000. I think they have their hands full protecting the border and dealing with the refugees. More importantly, they understand the current government in Kyrgyzstan is trying to stop the violence.

Russia does have a mechanized infantry division located in neighboring Tajikistan, but I'm not sure how long it would take to deploy to Kyrgyzstan given the mountainous region and difficult transportation network. Plus, the division is in Tajikistan to keep a lid on ethnic violence between Tajik's and Uzbek's in Tajikistan.

Russia has so far said they do not plan to get involved in Kyrgyzstan even though nearly 1/5 of the population of Kyrgyzstan is ethnic Russian.

The immediate needs are obviously stopping the violence and taking care of the refugees. But until there is political stability and Kyrgyzstan security forces increase their capabilities, there is the risk for this to continue or start up again even if it temporarily stops.
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Old 06-16-2010, 07:38 PM   #10
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Kyrgyz army tries to get control in riot-hit south

By SERGEI GRITS, Associated Press Writer Sergei Grits, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 23 mins ago
OSH, Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyzstan's weak military attempted Wednesday to regain control of the city of Osh, a major transit point for Afghan heroin and the epicenter of ethnic violence that has driven much of the Uzbek population from the country's poor, rural south.

Troops encircled the city with checkpoints and held the central square, but citizens reported that some soldiers also were looting food aid, casting doubt on the government's ability to re-establish stability after nearly a week of brutal attacks.

The leader of Kyrgyzstan's Uzbek community said the death toll among Uzbeks exceeded 300. The official toll on both sides is 189, although officials have acknowledged it is likely far higher. More than 100,000 Uzbeks have fled to Uzbekistan, with tens of thousands more camped on the Kyrgyz side of the border.

The interim Kyrgyz government has alleged that attackers hired by deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev set off the bloodshed by shooting at both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, who have a history of ethnic tensions. The United Nations bolstered the claims by declaring that the fighting was "targeted and well-planned," and appeared to have begun with five simultaneous attacks in Osh by men wearing ski masks.

Provisional authorities said Bakiyev's clan could try to foment unrest in other parts of the country.

Zarylbek Rysaliyev, the police chief in the capital, Bishkek, said Wednesday that his officers have detained 111 people from the southern regions who allegedly sought to stir up ethnic tensions and offered money to those who would rally in Bakiyev's support.

Rysaliyev also said police have stepped up patrols around the Bishkek in northern Kyrgyzstan and set up roadblocks on the outskirts.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke by telephone with Kyrgyzstan's interim President Roza Otunbayeva on Wednesday to discuss the aid the impoverished Central Asian nation will need. A senior American diplomat is heading to Bishkek for further consultations on Friday.
The U.S. has allocated $10.3 million for humanitarian aid, the embassy in Bishkek said. U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said more than $6.5 million of that is for immediate humanitarian assistance.

On Wednesday, cargo planes began landing in Uzbekistan with the more than 240 tons of emergency supplies that the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees plans to provide to Uzbeks who fled the rioting, including tents, blankets and sleeping mats.

Bakiyev was ousted in April in a bloody uprising fueled by anger over alleged corruption. Mars Sariyev, an independent political analyst Bishkek, said members of his family continued to control the drug trade in the Osh Knot, an area where Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan meet that is one of the most heavily used routes for Afghan heroin heading to Russia.

The drugs are transported by car and truck along a 400-mile-long (700-kilometer-long) highway that runs across the Pamir Mountains from Tajikistan's porous border with Afghanistan to Osh, as well as along other smaller roads in southern Kyrgyzstan where borders are poorly controlled, according to the United Nations.

Much of the heroin is repackaged in Osh before being transported west to Uzbekistan and north to Kazakhstan and Russia by plane, train and land, the U.N. says. Kyrgyz officials have reported major seizures of heroin and opium in Osh in recent years.

U.N. and Kyrgyz officials also have noted an increased use of "mules," individuals who carry the drugs in their stomachs or rectums, by consuming or inserting condoms filled with heroin


Members of the Bakiyev clan lost their hold on the drug trade a week ago with the killing of the leader of an Uzbek criminal group who worked closely with them, Sariyev said. The reputed Uzbek criminal boss, Aibek Mirsidikov, was in a turf war against the leader of the Uzbek community in the Jalal-Abad region, the 24.kg news agency reported, citing an acting deputy prime minister, Azimbek Beknazarov.

The Bakiyevs may have helped instigate the ethnic violence in an attempt both to weaken the interim government and create a power vacuum that would help them regain control over the drug flow, Sariyev charged. He and other analysts also have said they believe that Bakiyev's clan wanted to derail a constitutional referendum that the provisional government needs to gain legitimacy and pave the way for the parliamentary elections in the fall.



Bakiyev has denied having any role in the violence, speaking from his self-proclaimed exile in Belarus.

Uzbek leader Jalalidin Salahuddinov told The Associated Press on Wednesday that 300 deaths had been reported by members of his community who buried friends and relatives. Some were buried on the day they were killed in keeping with Muslim tradition. Salahuddinov said the number includes some Uzbeks already counted in the official toll.

Military trucks and armored personnel carriers were stationed on the central square, and at least five checkpoints had been established around the city, including along the road to the airport and other entry points. An APC and a dozen soldiers manned each post. Every few hours military trucks transported refugees out of the city.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said security in Osh remained fragile with violence persisting in pockets on the city's edges. It said the Red Cross and rights organizations had trouble reaching some Uzbek neighborhoods, and voiced concern that humanitarian assistance was not reaching all of the population.

Munojat Tashbayeva, a 31-year-old sociologist, said 20 or so Kyrgyz men in military uniform stormed a building where five sacks of flour had just been delivered in central Osh and ordered her to get out, threatening to shoot her if she objected, before hauling the sacks away.

Tashbayeva said she saw how the assailants beat up several teenagers who had helped unload the cargo and took the flour away. One of the teenagers, 18-year-old Shokhrukh Sobirov, had a severe cranial wound and was left lying on the floor, his head bleeding.

The violence reduced much of Osh to charred rubble. Roving mobs of young Kyrgyz men burned down Uzbek homes and attacked Uzbek-owned businesses, looting them and then setting them on fire. Some Uzbeks who remained in Osh built barricades around their homes from felled trees and fences ripped up from a cemetery.

The letters SOS have been painted in white on streets and walls in Uzbek neighborhoods.

Salahuddinov said that an Uzbek man had been stabbed to death in a market Wednesday and people still feared leaving their basements to receive aid.

"If they don't kill us, we could die of hunger if the situation doesn't change in the next few days," he told the AP.

An AP photographer saw military patrols and heard artillery fire from their positions in central Osh overnight. One of the few Uzbek families to remain in Osh told The Associated Press that a mother of two was killed by shrapnel from a shell launched toward their home by the Kyrgyz military before dawn.

A few stores opened in Osh, but the streets were mostly empty and sporadic shots were heard. The military said that snipers remained active in the city.

Thousands of ethnic Uzbeks were camped in squalid conditions near the Uzbekistan border, waiting to cross and enter one of the dozens of refugee camps there.

In neighboring Kazakhstan, border guards were prohibiting ethnic Uzbeks from crossing from Kyrgyzstan and will deport some 200 ethnic Uzbeks who had crossed into Kazakhstan in recent days, said Zaridjan Sultanov, an Uzbek leader in Bishkek.

Kazakh border officials were not immediately available for comment.

Kyrgyz authorities said some 160 tons of aid have been sent to Osh and Jalal-Abad — another city suffering serious damage in the rioting. But there were concerns about whether it was all reaching the needy.

Svetlana Permyakova, an ethnic Russian resident of Osh, said the supplies she and her neighbors received were "dismal."

She said the 63 residents of an apartment building in southern part of Osh received a total of several pounds of rice and macaroni, a bottle of vegetable oil and one flat bread per person.

Both the U.S. and Moscow have air bases in Kyrgyzstan, but they are in the north, far from the rioting.

The West has urged Kyrgyzstan to forge ahead with a June 27 referendum on the constitution and parliamentary elections in October despite the violence.

___

Associated Press writers Yuras Karmanau in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Romain Goguelin in Jalal-Abad, Kyrgyzstan; Sasha Merkushev and Alexander Zemlianichenko in Osh contributed to this report.

Kyrgyz army tries to get control in riot-hit south - Yahoo! News
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:14 PM   #11
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UN says 400,000 uprooted in Kyrgyzstan

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UN says 400,000 uprooted in Kyrgyzstan

By SASHA MERKUSHEV and SERGEI GRITS Sasha Merkushev And Sergei Grits – 40 mins ago
OSH, Kyrgyzstan – Some 400,000 people have been displaced by ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, the United Nations announced Thursday, dramatically increasing the official estimate of a crisis that has left throngs of desperate, fearful refugees without enough food and water in grim camps along the Uzbek border.


Ethnic Uzbeks interviewed by Associated Press journalists in the main regional city of Osh said that ethnic Kyrgyz men had sexually assaulted and beaten more than 10 Uzbek women and girls, including some pregnant women, and children as young as 12, on a single street during the rampages that erupted last week.

Resident Matlyuba Akramova showed journalists a 16-year-old relative who appeared to be in a state of shock, and said she had been hiding in the attic as Kyrgyz mobs beat her father in their home in the Cheryomushki neighborhood.

At some point, Akramova said, the girl came downstairs to bandage her father's head and another group of attackers noticed her and sexually assaulted her in front of her father.

Members of the Kyrgyz community have denied accusations of brutality and have accused Uzbek of raping Kyrgyz women. Eyewitnesses and experts say many Kyrgyz were killed in the unrest between the majority Kyrgyz population and minority ethnic Uzbeks. But the majority of victims appear to have been predominantly Uzbeks, traditional farmers and traders who speak a distinct but separate Turkic language and have traditionally been more prosperous than the Kyrgyz, who come from a nomadic tradition.

Odinama Matkadyrovna, an Uzbek doctor in Osh, said there were probably more cases of rape, but many victims were reluctant to speak out about their experience because of fear to dishonor their families in view of local traditions.

"Our mentality is such that they conceal (cases of rape)," she told the Associated Press Television News.

U.N. Humanitarian Office spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said an estimated 300,000 people had been driven from their homes but remain inside the nation of 5.3 million people. She said there are now also about 100,000 refugees in neighboring Uzbekistan. The last official estimate of refugees who fled the country was 75,000. No number of internally displaced has been available.

Kyrgyzstan's government has accused the country's deposed president of igniting long-standing ethnic tensions by sending gunmen in ski masks to shoot members of both groups. The government, which overthrew President Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April, accuses the former leader of deep corruption and says that he and his supporters were attempting to shake official control of the south and reassert their grip on the Afghan heroin trade in the area.

Some Uzbek witnesses have alleged that the Kyrgyz mobs were aided by military and police.

Col. Iskander Ikramov, the chief of the Kyrgyz military in the south, rejected the allegations of troop involvement in the riots but said that the army didn't interfere in the conflict because it was not supposed to play the role of a police force.

Ole Solvang, a Human Rights Watch researcher investigating the violence in Osh, said Kyrgyz troops were standing 220 yards (200 meters) from the Cheryomushki neighborhood when the looting and killings started but didn't interfere.

"This is an extreme failure on the part of the government to intervene and protect these people", he told the APTN.

He also said the group had heard many reports from eyewitnesses that the military helped the rioters.

Khasan Rakhimov, a resident of Cheryomushki, said soldiers had driven an armored personnel carrier into the area and cleared the way for Kyrgyz attackers.

"They shot at all who put up resistance," he said of the troops.

The deputy chief of the provisional government, Azimbek Beknazarov, said Thursday that authorities had strengthened roadblocks on all entrances into the capital, Bishkek, and tightened security in prisons to prevent Bakiyev's clan from provoking turmoil in the north.

Beknazarov put the official death toll on both sides is 223, but others said the figure could be significantly higher. Many Kyrgyz were killed but the victims appear to have been predominantly Uzbeks, traditional farmers and traders who speak a distinct but separate Turkic language and have traditionally been more prosperous than the Kyrgyz, who come from a nomadic tradition.

Ethnic Uzbeks in camps along the Uzbekistan side of the border told Associated Press reporters Thursday that they were fearful of returning to their homes. Many on the Kyrgyzstan side said they had been prevented from doing so by the authorities, and were awaiting their chance to leave the country for the camps.

A few parts of the south have been all but purged of the ethnic Uzbeks. In other areas, some residents, mostly men, had stayed behind to look after property still left, felling trees and piling up old cars on the streets to barricade themselves into their neighborhoods.

Many of the thousands of refugees to have crossed into Uzbekistan say they are afraid to return to Osh, the country's second-largest city. The urban center and nearby areas had a population of more than 1.1 million. Many now would have nowhere to live if they returned.

"My house is not there anymore, it is burnt down, said Khafiza Eiganberdiyeva, 87, who is among 20,000 refugees in a camp set up near Yor Kishlok, three miles (five kilometers) from the Uzbek-Kyrgyz border.

In an Uzbek neighborhood of Osh, a baker who had fled to the border with his wife and five children said his family had lost hope after supplies on the border ran out, and returned out of desperation.

"Is there any difference where to die? There is no food, no water, no humanitarian aid," Melis Kamilov, 36, said against the backdrop of his ruined home.

The Kamilovs fled to the border on Sunday, three days after the rioting began in earnest.

"I am an Uzbek, is that a crime? This is not a Kyrgyz house, this house is mine."

More than 1 million Uzbeks who lived in Kyrgyzstan before the crisis had few representatives in power and pushed for broader political and cultural rights. About 800,000 of them resided in the south, rivaling Kyrgyz in numbers in the southern cities of Osh and the nearby town of Jalal-Abad. Both are predominantly Sunni Muslim.

Kyrgyzstan's weak military has been gradually regaining control of Osh, a major transit point for Afghan heroin and the epicenter of the recent violence, but citizens reported that some soldiers also were looting food aid. Some refugees who deserted Jalal-Abad, which also suffered heavy damage in the rioting, have been stopped from returning there by authorities who set up a checkpoint on the road back into the city.

In Britain, media reports said one of Bakiyev's sons had sought political asylum.

Maxim Bakiyev fled to Britain after Kyrgyz prosecutors put him on a wanted listed for allegedly avoiding almost $80 million in taxes.

The Home Office says the 32-year-old was questioned by officials when he flew into Farnborough Airport near London on a private plane Sunday without the necessary documents to enter the U.K.

Britain's domestic news agency Press Association reports that Bakiyev is seeking asylum. The Home Office said it cannot comment on an ongoing asylum application.

____

Associated Press writers Eliane Engeler in Geneva and Yuras Karmanau and Leila Saralayeva in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan contributed to this report from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:29 PM   #12
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Old 06-18-2010, 11:18 AM   #13
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Interim leader: Up to 2,000 dead in Kyrgyz clashes

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Interim leader: Up to 2,000 dead in Kyrgyz clashes

By PETER LEONARD, Associated Press Writer Peter Leonard, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 40 mins ago
OSH, Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyzstan's interim president said Friday that 2,000 people may have died in the ethnic clashes that have rocked the country's south — many times her government's official estimate — as she made her first visit to a riot-hit city since the unrest erupted.

The deputy head of the provisional government, Azimbek Beknazarov, put the official death toll on both sides at 223 on Thursday, but others said the figure could be significantly higher. The deaths have been due to rampages led mainly by ethnic Kyrgyz against Uzbeks.

"I would increase by 10 times the official data on the number of people killed," Interim President Roza Otunbayeva said, according to her spokesman, Farid Niyazov. She said current figures don't take into account those buried before sundown on the day of death in keeping with Muslim tradition, according to the spokesman.

There was no indication of whether a comprehensive body count was conducted, but Otunbayeva's estimate appeared credible. Official counts have been solely on deaths registered at major hospitals, but accounts from ethnic Uzbeks say several hundred people have died.

"It is closer to this figure" of 2,000, Niyazov said.

The United Nations said that as many as 1 million people may eventually need aid in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, including the refugees, internally displaced, host families and others who may suffer from the unrest.

UNICEF spokeswoman Christiane Berthiaume said the figure was an estimate to help aid agencies plan. She says the actual number of people in need may turn out to be higher or lower.

The aid agencies say those uprooted by the unrest most urgently need food, water, medicine and shelter.

The U.N.'s aid airlift into Kyrgyzstan was scheduled to begin this weekend. Two chartered Ilyushin-76 cargo planes carrying 80 tons of relief items are expected to arrive in Osh.

Meanwhile, the sixth flight into Uzbekistan is expected to land at Andijan, Uzbekistan, later Friday, completing the initial load of some 240 tons of relief supplies.

Otunbayeva arrived early Friday by helicopter in the central square of Osh, a city of 250,000 where the violence began last week. Parts of the city have been reduced to rubble by mobs of young Kyrgyz men who burned down Uzbek homes and attacked Uzbek businesses.

The United Nations estimates that 400,000 people fled the country's south.

"We have to give hope that we shall restore the city, return all the refugees and create all the conditions for that," Otunbayeva said.

She said good will between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks would end hostilities.
Up to 100,000 people have crossed the border into Uzbekistan, where they are getting food and water in camps. Thousands more remain camped in squalid conditions on the Kyrgyz side of the border, unable to cross due to Uzbek restrictions. Over the past few days, Uzbek border guards have placed quilted blankets over barbed wire at the border to allow refugees in Uzbekistan to return.

Migration official Alik Bayboriyev told the AP that there were 31,800 refugees on the Kyrgyz side of the border near Jalal-Abad, a hard-hit town near Osh.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, visiting a refugee camp in Uzbekistan about 5 kilometers (3 miles) from the Kyrgyz border, said he was working to ensure the refugees would be able to return home safely.

Blake was swamped by crying refugees, mainly older women and children, complaining they were desperate to return home but too fearful to do so.

"We ... believe there should be an investigation," he said. "We are working with the government of Kyrgyzstan to provide security so you can return home safely."

Blake asked the refugees if they thought the violence had been organized, as the United Nations and Kyrgyz authorities have suggested.

"Yes, of course it was organized, it all happened so unexpectedly," answered one refugee, Nasiba Mamyrdzhanova, from Osh, who wore a traditional Uzbek long-sleeved dress with a bright headscarf.

Blake toured a hospital in the eastern city of Andijan that had taken in 115 wounded refugees, asking doctors about the medical care they were receiving.

In a sign that tensions remain high, hundreds of ethnic Uighurs have fled communities in the capital, Bishkek, after receiving threats that they would be the next targets of violence.

As many as 70,000 Uighurs, a Turkic people with a significant presence in Central Asia and into China's far western regions, live in or near Bishkek. Most have fled for Kazakhstan, where many have relatives, the vice president of the country's Uighur community, Zhamaldin Nasyrov, told the AP.

He said unidentified people have visited the communities in jeeps, writing ominous warnings on houses and fences.

"Instigators who want to sow panic act in these villages," Nasyrov said. "We try to ignore their threats, but we are trying to work out security measures to protect our women and children."

Kyrgyz authorities have said the violence was sparked deliberately by associates of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the president who was toppled in April. The U.N. has said the unrest appeared orchestrated but has stopped short of assigning blame.

Ethnic Uzbeks on Thursday accused security forces of standing by or helping ethnic-majority Kyrgyz mobs as they slaughtered people and burned neighborhoods. Col. Iskander Ikramov, chief of the Kyrgyz military in the south, rejected allegations of troop involvement but said the army didn't interfere because it was not supposed to play the role of a police force.

"We are all witnesses to the fact that innocent citizens were fired upon from an armored personnel carrier by soldiers in military uniform. I don't know whether they were from the government or some third party, but they only shot at Uzbeks," said Sabir Khaidir, and ethnic Uzbek in Jalal-Abad.

Rakhim Tadjibayev, an ethnic Uzbek whose house was burned down nearby, stepped forlornly around the rubble.

"There's nothing left," said Tadjibayev, who returned Thursday from three days at the border with his family.

The military and police set up roadblocks and began patrols this week after the worst violence was over.

Uzbeks interviewed by Associated Press journalists in Osh said that, on one street alone, ethnic Kyrgyz men sexually assaulted and beat more than 10 Uzbek women and girls, including some pregnant women and children as young as 12.

Members of the Kyrgyz community have denied accusations of brutality and have accused Uzbeks of raping Kyrgyz women. Eyewitnesses and experts say many Kyrgyz were killed in the unrest, but most victims appear to have been Uzbeks, traditional farmers and traders who speak a different Turkic language and have been more prosperous than the Kyrgyz, who come from a nomadic tradition.

More than 1 million Uzbeks who lived in Kyrgyzstan before the crisis had few representatives in power and pushed for broader political and cultural rights. About 800,000 of them lived in the south, rivaling Kyrgyz in numbers in Osh and Jalal-Abad. Both ethnic groups are predominantly Sunni Muslim.

___

Associated Press writers Yuras Karmanau in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Eliane Engeler in Geneva and Masha Stromova in Uzbekistan contributed to this report.
Interim leader: Up to 2,000 dead in Kyrgyz clashes - Yahoo! News
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Old 06-19-2010, 12:41 PM   #14
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US envoy urges independent probe into Kyrgyz riots

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US envoy urges independent probe into Kyrgyz riots

By YURAS KARMANAU and ROMAIN GOGUELIN, Associated Press Writers Yuras Karmanau And Romain Goguelin, Associated Press Writers – 2 hrs 12 mins ago
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan – A top U.S. envoy called Saturday for an independent investigation into the violence that has devastated southern Kyrgyzstan, as amateur video emerged of unarmed Uzbeks gathering to defend their town during the attacks.

Prosecutors on Saturday charged Azimzhan Askarov, the head of a prominent human rights group who shot the video, with inciting ethnic hatred. Askarov had accused the military of complicity in the bloody rampages that sent hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks fleeing for their lives.

The country's rights ombudsman Tursunbek Akun insisted the charges against Askarov were fabricated, and activists in Bishkek demonstrated before U.N. offices to demand his release.

Valentina Gritsenko, head of the Justice rights organization, said she feared Askarov was being tortured. He was detained with his brother on Tuesday in his southern hometown of Bazar-Korgon, colleagues told The Associated Press.

Entire Uzbek neighborhoods in southern Kyrgyzstan have been reduced to scorched ruins by rampaging mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz who forced nearly half of the region's roughly 800,000 Uzbeks to flee. Interim President Roza Otunbayeva says up to 2,000 people may have died in the clashes.

Kyrgyz authorities say the violence was sparked by supporters of ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was toppled in April amid accusations of corruption. The U.N. has said the unrest appeared orchestrated, but has stopped short of assigning blame. Bakiyev, from exile, has denied any involvement.

Many ethnic Uzbeks also accused security forces of standing by or helping majority Kyrgyz mobs as they slaughtered Uzbeks and burned neighborhoods. Col. Iskander Ikramov, chief of the Kyrgyz military in the south, says the army didn't interfere because it is not a police force.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake met with Otunbayeva in Bishkek, the capital, on Saturday after touring several packed refugee camps in neighboring Uzbekistan.

Blake said the interim government should probe the violence and "such an investigation should be complemented by an international investigation by a credible international body."

He said the U.S. was working with the Kyrgyz government to make sure the refugees would be able to return home safely. The United States has released $32.2 million in aid, and Russia and France also sent planeloads of relief gear.

The Associated Press obtained Askarov's video, which was shot June 13 at the height of the rampages. It shows a few dozen Uzbeks pacing nervously around a square in Bazar-Korgon, an ethnic Uzbek settlement, apparently before rioters descended. Armed with only sticks and stones, several men are seen heading across the square as gun shots ring out and smoke rises in background.

"Are we going to just sit around and wait for them?" one man says in Uzbek. In a different shot, a voice colleagues confirm as Askarov's is heard saying "They're getting close."

"So many people have died over there. ... One armed group is gone; there is still another which has stayed. They're shooting from the direction of the prison, and Uzbeks have nothing but sticks one meter or half a meter long. There is smoke rising and I have no idea what's left there," Askarov says.

Destruction caused during the rampages was visible Saturday in parts of Bazar-Korgon, and Askarov's office was one of several gutted buildings.

The United Nations estimates 400,000 people have fled their homes and about 100,000 of them have entered Uzbekistan.

Thousands of ethnic Uzbeks massed this week in VLKSM (Veh-L-Kah-S-M), a village near Kyrgyzstan's main southern city of Osh. The village's name is a Russian-language acronym for the Soviet Communist Youth League, leftover from when this Central Asian nation was a Soviet republic.

Red Cross spokesman Christian Cardon said agency workers distributed oil and wheat flower to 12,750 displaced people in VLKSM on Saturday and handed out supplies to 18,750 displaced in Suretapa.

"The situation is still quite tense, but we're able to access all the places" where uprooted people have gathered, he said.

Employees from the Kyrgyz Red Crescent and ICRC workers monitor the distribution of aid, he said.

Many said they could not go back to their towns and live next to the people they accuse of attacking them.

"This is our nation, this is a holy land, but I can't live here any more," said Mukhabat Ergashova, a retiree who had taken shelter with dozens of others in a crowded tent.

"We are all witnesses to the fact that innocent citizens were fired upon from an armored personnel carrier by soldiers in military uniform. I don't know whether they were from the government or some third party, but they only shot at Uzbeks," said Sabir Khaidir, an ethnic Uzbek in Jalal-Abad.

Supplies of bread and rice from Uzbekistan kept the refugees from starvation. But many had to sleep in the open air, and overcrowding, bad sanitary conditions and a shortage of clean water were making many sick. Overwhelmed doctors struggled to treat outbreaks of diarrhea and other ailments with paltry medical supplies.

In Osh, the atmosphere remained tense, with barricades of burned out cars and debris blocking Uzbek neighborhoods. Otunbayeva, the interim leader, arrived Friday by helicopter in Osh's central square in the hope of conveying a sign of stability.

"We have to give hope that we shall restore the city, return all the refugees and create all the conditions for that," she said, wearing a bulletproof vest.

___

Goguelin was in Bazar-Korgon. Associated Press writer Peter Leonard in VLKSM, Kyrgyzstan, and Eliane Engeler in Geneva also contributed to this report.
US envoy urges independent probe into Kyrgyz riots - Yahoo! News
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