Protesters clash with police outside Kyrgyz presidential office, 10 killed

20:29, April 07, 2010      

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At least 10 protesters were killed and scores of others injured when Kyrgyz opposition supporters, who were demanding the resignation of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, clashed with riot police outside the presidential office Wednesday, a police officer told Xinhua.

The police officer, Toktaim Umetalieva, said the police shot dead 10 people while trying to disperse thousands of protesters rallying outside the presidential office.

At least 93 people have been injured when opposition protesters clashed with police outside the Kyrgyz presidential office in central Bishkek Wednesday, a spokesperson for the health ministry told Xinhua.

The spokeswoman, Elena Byalinova, however, said the exact death toll remained unknown.

A Xinhua reporter, who reported from the clash scene, and other witnesses said at least four civilians have been killed in the skirmishes.

The Xinhua reporter, who was staying inside the presidential office after an interview with the prime minister earlier in the day, saw many protesters clashing fiercely with police officers outside the presidential office.

The police were seen firing warning shots into the sky and the crowd and explosions could be heard. Many protesters fought back by hurtling bottles and stones at riot police holding shields. Several vehicles were set on fire.

Outside the presidential office, the police were blocking protesters and establishing a new security belt. The roads in the city center were closed and vehicles were forbidden. More police troops were rushing toward the presidential office, witnesses said.

Bakiyev has ordered a state of emergency in Bishkek and three other cities, local television reported. The order is expected to be approved soon by parliament.

Opposition supporters marched toward the presidential office in the city center from different directions in the morning. Some protesters seized quite a few police vehicles and drove them toward the presidential office.

The protesters were attempting to storm into the building, and were demanding negotiations with President Bakiyev and Prime Minister Usenov. They threatened to occupy the presidential office if their demands were not met.

In a related development, the regional government buildings in Naryn and Chui states were overrun by opposition protesters earlier Wednesday, witnesses told Xinhua.

About 3,000 opposition protestors gathered at a central square in the provincial capital of Naryn.

The U.S. embassy in Bishkek Wednesday urged the Kyrgyz government and opposition protesters to start negotiations as early as possible.

The U.S. embassy said in a statement that the U.S. government was deeply concerned about the latest unrest in some Kyrgyz cities.

The statement hoped that all the parties concerned in Kyrgyzstan would abide by law, begin talks as soon as possible, and solve their rifts within the framework of law.

Earlier, Russia had urged restraint between Kyrgyz authorities and the opposition and called on them to resolve their disputes through democratic means instead of violence.

In a Tuesday unrest in the northern Kyrgyz town of Talas, at least 15 police officers were missing, and 16 civilians and 85 policemen were injured, Prime Minister Usenov said.

The unrest broke out after head and deputy head of the main opposition Ata-Meken party were arrested Tuesday. Kyrgyz authorities said the unrest had been put under control.

Source: Xinhua


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