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Kyrgyz clashes force state of emergency rule

President Atambayev issues decree after thousands of miners stage angry protest demanding nationalisation of gold mine.

Last Modified: 31 May 2013 10:34
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Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet state of five million people [AFP]

Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev has declared a state of emergency in the area around a Canadian-owned gold mine after clashes between security forces and demonstrators demanding its nationalisation.

Atambayev signed a decree on Friday declaring the state of emergency in the Dzheti-Ogyzsky district of the northeastern Issyk-Kul region until June 10.

The protestors were demanding the nationalisation of the Kumtor gold mine, which is owned by Centerra Gold since it started operations in 1997.

In response, authorities arrested at least 92 people, as security forces moved in to disperse the protest and dismantle their tents.

But the move sparked a new and larger protest, as thousands of locals began a march to call for the release of those detained.

Power cut

Local media quoted eyewitnesses as saying that at 3,000 local miners joined in the march.

Some of the protesters then seized an electricity station and cut off power to the mine, which is one of the country's biggest assets.

The crowd also reportedly blocked roads and even occupied local administration buildings.

Centerra Gold said its production at the location has been temporarily halted as a result.

Centerra says the protests are illegal and that it is working with the government and local authorities to resolve the situation.

Kyrgyz officials said power was restored after the security operation but it was unclear if production at the mine would resume soon.

Kumtor accounts for about 12 percent of the economy of the impoverished ex-Soviet nation of 5 million people on China's mountainous western border.

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