Journalists and diplomats visit Andijan

A group of foreign diplomats and journalists have arrived in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan to investigate widely diverging tolls and accounts of the violence in this US-allied Central Asian country.

    Security in the streets of Andijan remained tight

    The group arrived in Andijan on Wednesday on a government-organised flight.

     

    Britain and others have urged the Uzbek authorities to open Andijan for international assessment.

     

    Streets in Andijan remained stained with blood and security was tight. Armoured vehicles guarded official buildings and troops, in combat gear, watched from behind concrete barricades.

     

    Prosecutor-General Rashid Kadyrov and President Islam Karimov held a news conference in the capital, Tashkent, on Tuesday, blaming alleged Islamic militants for last week's unrest, and denied that government forces had shot and killed any civilians.

     

    The top prosecutor said 169 were killed, mostly terrorists and government troops; but opposition activists maintain that more than 700 died - most of them civilians.

     

    Kadyrov said 32 soldiers and 137 others, most of them "terrorists," including foreign fighters, were killed in the eastern town of Andijan. He said victims included hostages and civilians killed by militants, but did not give any figures.

     

    However, opposition leaders blamed government troops for most of the killings. They allege that more than 500 people, many of them innocent civilians, were killed in Andijan and more than 200 in the nearby town of Pakhtabad.

     

    The unrest was the worst since the former Soviet republic won independence in 1991.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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