Journalists expelled from Uzbekistan

Journalists are being expelled from the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan, as police and soldiers set up a tight security cordon around the city.

    Journalists are not permitted to report on the situation in Andijan

    The expulsions came on the second day of rebellion against the government of President Islam Karimov.


    Several journalists including AFP correspondents were rounded up and escorted out of the city by security forces overnight, while reporters were stopped at police-manned checkpoints set up on all main roads into Andijan.


    "We have been told to clear out," said a reporter for the local Ferghana news agency, which has been one of the main sources of information about the rebellion in Andijan.


    "You have 30 minutes to leave this city. We are not responsible for your security," an official from the National Security Service, a successor to the Soviet-era KGB, told one of the journalists after they were detained by police.


    "You may be taken hostage by the rebels."


    The journalist said he felt under threat in the city - though he did not say from whom - and was planning to leave within hours.


    Media clampdown


    Uzbek authorities have imposed a strict clampdown on media coverage of the recent unrest, banning all foreign television news broadcasts into the country.


    Seven journalists had been in Andijan covering the violence. Most worked for foreign media. One worked for a pro-opposition website.


    Uzbek media is tightly controlled by the state and has not reported from inside the town.


    Residents who had fled fighting the previous day were also prevented from returning to the city on Saturday.


    At least 50 people were reported killed when troops opened fire on a crowd of protesters, after rebels stormed government buildings and freed thousands of prisoners including 23 charged with belonging to an outlawed Islamic group.


    Andijan is the Central Asian country's fourth-largest city with 300,000 inhabitants.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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