Kyrgyzstan reinforces turmoil-hit south as death toll rises to 82

17:41, June 13, 2010      

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The Kyrgyz interim government granted shoot-to-kill powers to its troops and police to quell the unrest which has killed at least 82 people and injured more than 1,000 in the southern part of the country.

The continuing violence, the worst since the former president was ousted in April, has forced the interim government to declare a state of emergency in Osh and Jalalabad, two major cities in the south.

Armed gangs have been burning down the homes and businesses despite the curfews. Gunfire rang out Sunday in Osh and Jalalabad.

A resident in Osh told Xinhua through telephone that nearly every corner of the city was experiencing clashes. Debris after smashing and burning were seen in the streets.

Lethal force would be authorized to repel attacks against the authorities, stop the destruction of government and private property and protect civilians, the government said when it ordered a partial mobilization of the army.

"The violence, the number of pillages and massacres are growing ... If we do not take opportune and effective measures the unrest could become much more serious and descend into a regional conflict," it said in a statement.

Violence erupted in the Osh region overnight to Friday when hundreds of youths smashed windows, looted shops and set fire to cars in the city, prompting the government to impose a curfew and state of emergency.

The current clashes followed violence in May when supporters of ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev clashed with backers of the interim government in Osh and Jalalabad.

Kyrgyzstan is expected to vote on a new constitution later this month, followed by new parliamentary elections in October.

Interim President Roza Otunbayeva told reporters Saturday she had appealed to Moscow to intervene militarily.

"Since yesterday the situation has got out of control," she said. "We need outside military forces to halt the situation. For this reason we have appealed to Russia for help."

While the authorities on Sunday declared a second state of emergency in Jalalabad, Deputy Interim Minister Azimbek Beknadzarov said on national television that this had become necessary because the instability was spreading.

GLOBAL REACTION

The unrest raised concerns in the international community. An "ally and a close partner" of Kyrgyzstan, Russia was rushing humanitarian aid to the former Soviet Central Asian republic, but it would not yet send troops.

"This is an internal conflict and Russia does not yet see the conditions for its participating in resolving it," Natalya Timakhova, spokeswoman for President Dmitry Medvedev, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.

A decision to dispatch peacekeepers could be taken only after consultations with the United Nations, she added.

The United States, which maintained an air base outside the capital Bishkek, called on Saturday for a "rapid restoration of peace and public order" in southern Kyrgyzstan, saying it supported UN and European efforts to help bring an end to the deadly violence.

"The United States is closely monitoring developments in the Kyrgyz republic and calls for a rapid restoration of peace and public order in the city of Osh and elsewhere where it appears ethnic violence is occurring," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said in a statement.

"The United States supports efforts coordinated by the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to facilitate peace and order and the provision of humanitarian assistance to the victims of violence and disorder in the Kyrgyz republic."

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it had received reports of tens of thousands people fleeing the fighting and looting.

"Things are getting worse and worse by the hour," Severine Chappaz, the deputy head of the ICRC's mission in Kyrgyzstan, said in a statement from Osh. The European Commission had announced it would send an humanitarian expert to evaluate the situation and determine what aid was needed.

Member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which groups China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, called on Friday for restoring stability in Kyrgyzstan through dialogue.

In a declaration issued at the end of the SCO summit in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, the SCO member countries said any difference should be settled through dialogue and consultations by political and diplomatic means.

The member states emphasized that restoring Kyrgyzstan's political stability was significant to the entire region and they were willing to provide necessary support and assistance to Kyrgyzstan.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:黄硕)

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