Tens of Thousands Flee Kyrgyzstan Following Ethnic Clashes; At Least 100 Dead (Video)
Tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks fled Kyrgyzstan today following the third day of fighting in the south of the country. At least 100 people were killed in the ethnic violence.
The Express Tribune has video:
As unrest grips the south of Kyrgyzstan leaving some 86dead and a thousand wounded, interim government officials have given shoot-to-kill powers to security forces.
The President of Kyrgyzstan blamed the ousted opposition leader for the violence.
The AP reported:
Kyrgyz mobs burned Uzbek villages and slaughtered their residents Sunday in the worst ethnic rioting this Central Asian nation has seen in 20 years, sending more than 75,000 Uzbeks fleeing across the border into Uzbekistan.
Most of the Uzbek refugees were elderly people, women and children, and many had gunshot wounds, the Uzbek Emergencies Ministry said in a statement carried by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. It said refugee camps were being set up for them in several areas of Uzbekistan.
Fires set by rioters have destroyed most of Osh, the second-largest city in Kyrgyzstan, and food was scarce after widespread looting. Triumphant crowds of Kyrgyz men took control of Osh on Sunday as the few Uzbeks still left in the city of 250,000 barricaded themselves in their neighborhoods. Fires continued to rage across Osh and shots were heard but police were nowhere to be seen.
The rioting has significant political overtones. Former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in a bloody uprising in April and fled the country. Uzbeks have backed Kyrgyzstan’s interim government, while many Kyrgyz in the south support the toppled president.
Interim President Roza Otunbayeva blamed Bakiyev’s family for instigating the unrest, saying it aimed to derail a June 27 constitutional referendum and new elections scheduled for October. A local official in the south said Bakiyev supporters had attacked both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks to ignite the rioting.
Kyrgyzstani blogger Tolkun has photos and gruesome video from the “massacre.” He says the death toll is much much higher than the official figures, as people are still finding dead corpses around Osh.
The Registan is, of course, following the developments.