At least 37 people were killed and over 500 injured in Kyrgyz-Uzbek 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.
Kyrgyzstan 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, last night. Police and Army have been ordered to open fire. "I have declared a state of emergency in our Southern Capital (Osh)", acting President Rosa Otunbayeva said in her televised statement.
Otunbayeva said the rioting erupted after clashes between the youth groups of the two communities and spread over the whole of Osh, the second largest city 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.
At least 37 people were killed and over 500 injured in the clashes that appears to have taken authorities by surprise and has thrown the fragile interim government's prospects for survival into doubt, TV reports said.
The rioting coincided with the opening of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tashkent, capital of neighbouring Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ruled out military intervention by Moscow-led Collective Security Pact Organisation (CSTO) in Kyrgyzstan saying the situation in the Central Asian republic, a member of this security bloc, does not require such response. "The criteria for the use of CSTO joint force are the violation of the external borders of by a foreign aggressor or non-state actors.
In other words, about the attempt to grab power by external forces, which is seen as an attack on entire CSTO. So far this is not the case. All the problems faced by Kyrgyzstan today are rooted inside the country," Medvedev was quoted as saying by Interfax.
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. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe called for calm in the wake of ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan.
"I call on all parties to refrain from violence and to resolve the existing problems through dialogue and compromise," Kanat Saudabayev, Kazahkstan's foreign minister and acting president of the regional body, said in a statement. 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.
Kyrgyzstan hosts US and Russian military bases also. The US base is vital for the American and NATO forces which are fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan. PTI