23 dead, 300 hurt in Kyrgyz clashes

At least 23 people were killed and 300 injured in ethnic clashes in south Kyrgyzstan, a stronghold of deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, prompting the interim government to declare a state of emergency in the Central Asian nation that hosts US and Russian military bases.
The interim government, which came to power on April 7, has declared a state of emergency in ethnic clashes involving Uzbek minority in southern Osh region of the country, on Thursday night. The police and Army have been ordered to open fire.
The rioting coincided with the opening of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tashkent, capital of neighbouring Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan.
Speaking at the summit Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced that SCO is sending a monitoring mission to Kyrgyzstan, which is a founder-member of the regional grouping led by Russia and China.
“I have declared a state of emergency in our Southern Capital (Osh)”, acting President Rosa Otunbayeva said in her televised statement.
Ms Otunbayeva said the rioting erupted after clashes between the youth groups of the two communities and spread over the whole of Osh and neighbouring districts of Karasu, Aravan and Uzgen. She said after the local government lost control over the situation Army was called in to restore the law and order and curfew was in place. Russian agencies report that shops and business owned by ethnic Uzbeks were looted and set on fire.
Buildings of two theatres including Uzbek Babar Drama Theatre were set on fire. The Russian foreign ministry expressed Moscow’s concern over deadly clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan. “We are concerned over the outbreak of violence in Kyrgyzstan and express our condolences to the relatives of those who died,” deputy spokesman of ministry Igor Lyakin-Frolov said. In the past at several occasions Russia and China have conducted joint military drills to cope with situations like the current volatile situation in Kyrgyzstan.

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