Central & South Asia
Kyrgyz forces clash with Uzbeks
At least two killed as violence erupts during military search of Uzbek neighbourhood.
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2010 19:09 GMT

Al Jazeera's Clayton Swisher reports on Kyrgyzstan's referendum on a new constitution

Kyrgyz security forces have clashed with ethnic Uzbeks near the southern city of Osh, killing at least two people, officials and human rights groups say.

Ole Solvang of Human Rights Watch told the Reuters news agency that clashes broke out on Monday when government forces went on patrol in the Uzbek neighbourhood of Nariman, on the outskirts of Osh.

"The military have been going around doing checks ... and looking for weapons. A lot of people have been beaten up," Solvang said by telephone from a hospital in Osh.

Timur Kamchibekov, a spokesman for the Kyrgyz interim government, said Kyrgyz forces had come under attack in the Uzbek neighbourhood.

"During a security operation, law enforcement forces were met with armed resistance in the village of Nariman. According to preliminary information, two civilians died," he said.

Solvang said about 20 people were wounded, adding that doctors were unable, for security reasons, to reach outlying areas where they suspect more wounded people might be in need of help.

Tense situation

"It's very tense. The authorities have to be very careful about ways of doing these checks," he said.



  Q&A: Kyrgyzstan's ethnic violence
  Gallery: Humanitarian crisis
  Inside Story: Days of violence
  Violence and grief in Osh
  Interview with Otunbayeva
  UN: Unrest was planned
  Army accused of murder

Tolekan Ismailova, a prominent human rights campaigner in Osh, said the operation was carried out in response to the killing of a Kyrgyz policeman in an Uzbek settlement last week.

"There are a lot of wounded hiding in the houses. Young people are being taken away somewhere," she said.

Monday's clashes came amid efforts by Kyrgyzstan's interim leadership to restore order in the country's south after days of ethnic clashes.

Ethnic Uzbeks say they were targeted by members of the Kyrgyz community and that security forces had colluded against them.

Victims of the unrest say the violence was a brutal and orchestrated campaign targeting Uzbeks, who make up 14 per cent of Kyrgyzstan's population of 5.3 million.

Many Uzbek neighbourhoods in southern Kyrgyzstan were burnt to the ground by mobs of ethnic Kyrgyz. Nearly half of the region's 800,000 Uzbeks are believed to have fled across the border to Uzbekistan.

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