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Central & South Asia
Kyrgyz fear spread of violence
Interim government says deadly fighting in country's south could move to capital.
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2010 12:51 GMT
The southern city of Osh has seen five days of violence leading to scores of deaths [AFP]

Kyrgyzstan's interim government says it fears the deadly violence that has engulfed the south of the country, displacing tens of thousands of people, will spread.

Almazbek Atambayev, the deputy leader of the interim government, said on Tuesday that the unrest could spread from the southern city of Osh, where it started, to Bishkek, the capital, and another northern region.

"The events in Osh were so premeditated ... that now we should await some sort of provocative acts in Chui region and Bishkek, but we are well prepared for this," Atambayev said.

At least 171 people have been killed and 1,800 injured in five days of inter-ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, according to the government.

However, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that it believes more people have died in the fighting.

'Massive amounts buried'

Aigul Sigulina, a spokeswoman for the ICRC in Bishkek, told Al Jazeera: "We think that the number of people killed is higher than reported in the media because we have seen massive amounts of people buried.

IN DEPTH

 

  Q&A: Kyrgyzstan's ethnic violence
  In pictures: Kyrgyzstan's ethnic clashes
  Focus: Kyrgyzstan's hollow revolution
  Profile: Roza Otunbayeva
  Interview: Kurmanbek Bakiyev
  Inside Story:
  Russia's growing influence
  Behind Kyrgyzstan's unrest
 

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  Kyrgyzs reservist called in
  Uzbeks fear spreading violence
  Uzbeks flee Kyrgyzstan violence
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  Kyrgyz revolt backfires on economy

"Medical workers have been attacked and beaten, ambulances have been damaged. Even our operations sometimes had to stop because we were going to a hospital and were blocked by shootings and we had to go back." 

The unrest erupted in the city of Osh on Thursday, with mobs of Kyrgyz men attacking ethnic Uzbeks and torching their homes, witnesses said.

Jallahitdin Jalilatdinov, who heads the Uzbek National Center, said on Monday that more than 200 Uzbeks have since been killed in the rioting in the Central Asian nation.

Residents of Osh have began holding mass funerals for ethnic Uzbeks killed in the fighting.

The funerals came as the UN called for a humanitarian corridor to be established on the Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border where tens of thousands of minority-Uzbeks are crossing to escape the violence.

Some estimates put the number of people who have fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan at 100,000.

However, the government has withdrawn its appeal for foreign peacekeepers to control the situation amid fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Witnesses and officials have repeatedly claimed that the fighting had not erupted spontaneously between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks but had been organised by a third party.

'Organised unrest'

The interim government has accused Maxim Bakiyev, the son of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the deposed Kyrgyz president, of financing the clashes.


 Kyrgyzstan's 5.3 million population is mainly made up of Kyrgyz (70%) ethnic Uzbeks (15%) and Russians (8%).

 About 50% of the Osh region's 1.2 million inhabitants are ethnic Uzbeks.

 About 40% of a population of one million in Jalal'abad region are ethnic Uzbeks.  

"This was all well organised, and the 'wallet' of these riots is the son of the former president, Maxim Bakiyev, who started financing the riots back in April," Atambayev, the deputy interim leader, said at a news conference.

The younger Bakiyev is said to have paid $10 million to organise the fighting. He was arrested by UK authorities on Monday as he landed at Farnborough airport in a private aircraft.

The Kyrgyz government said that it would seek his extradition.

Despite the unrest, Roza Otunbayeva, the interim government's leader, said that the violence would not prevent a key constitutional referendum on June 27 from taking place.

Her assurances came after the UN and EU called on Kyrgyzstan not to allow the unrest in Osh and Jalal'abad in the south to derail the referendum and subsequent parliamentary polls.

The proposed referendum follows the toppling of Kurmanbek Bakiyev as president in April in violent protests that led to the deaths of about 90 people.

Bakiyev, whose stronghold is Osh, subsequently fled to Belarus. He is wanted on corruption charges amongst others.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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