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200 killed in ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek/Moscow, Jun 14 (Agencies):
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Published on 14 Jun. 2010 11:32 PM IST
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The death toll from ethnic fighting in Kyrgyzstan jumped dramatically today when an Uzbek community leader said that at least 200 people had been killed.
Government figures have put the number of dead at 117 with more than 1.500 injured after three days of clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek groups in the south of the country. But Jallahitdin Jalilatdinov, who heads Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbek National Centre, said that 200 Uzbeks have been buried so far.
The majority of those involved in the fighting that erupted late on Thursday are Muslim and burials traditionally take place within 24 hours of a death. The scale of the slaughter in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad was gradually becoming apparent today.
Terrified women and children hid in basements as Uzbek men with makeshift weapons kept nervous guard against marauding Kyrgyz gangs.Witnesses said that the streets of Uzbek districts of Osh were littered with bodies, many of them charred from fires that raged through homes and businesses.
Residents told an AFP reporter that mobs had killed 30 people on one street alone. Video film showed bodies being piled into shared graves, with bullet wounds on dozens of corpses.
“There are at least 1,000 dead here in Osh. We have not been able to register them because they turn us away at the hospital and say it is only for Kyrgyz,” Isamidin Kudbidunov, 27, said.
Uzbek residents accused Kyrgyz government troops of siding with rioters against them during the violence that has swept this strategically vital Central Asian state. Dildor Dzhumabayev, 38, said people were shot from armoured personnel carriers that cleared the way for mobs on the streets.
“First tanks came; behind them were people without uniforms. They cleared the road for them and they attacked us shooting up the street,” he said.
Tens of thousands have fled towards the nearby border with Uzbekistan to escape the killings. Officials in Uzbekistan say that as many as 75,000 may have already crossed its border to seek protection.
China will today send a plane to Kyrgyzstan to repatriate nationals caught in the ethnic slaughter.”It is not at all clear how the riots will progress so the embassy is making every effort to protect Chinese citizens’ lives and belongings,” a foreign ministry spokesman told China’s Beijing News. The announcement from a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman came as Russia flew troops to Kyrgyzstan to reinforce security at its military base near Bishkek.
Sporadic gunfire continued through the night and fresh fires raged in the south of the country early today as the country’s worst ethnic violence in 20 years showed no signs of abating.
As the Kyrgyz authorities ordered police and soldiers to shoot to kill rioters, in an effort to end the conflict, Moscow sent as many as 650 paratroopers “to ensure the security of Russian servicemen and their families”.
The Kremlin has, so far, rejected an appeal by Kyrgyzstan’s interim Government to send troops to the southern regions of Osh and Jalalabad, where more than 100 people have died and up to 1,700 have been wounded in three days of clashes between Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbek groups.
However, the size of the protection force fuelled speculation that a meeting later today of a Nato-style security alliance for former Soviet states could authorise a Russian-led peacekeeping mission to intervene and head off a possible civil war. The Collective Security Treaty Organisation includes Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, which announced yesterday that more than 75,000 refugees had crossed its border to escape the violence.
Uzbekistan said that it had set up temporary camps for them in border villages. The Red Cross warned of a humanitarian crisis that was “getting worse by the hour”. Much of Osh, a city of 250,000, has been destroyed by fire and looting after Kyrgyz gangs ransacked Uzbek neighbourhoods.
Witnesses reported that women and children were shot as they tried to flee and that bodies littered the city’s streets and many of its destroyed buildings. “They are killing Uzbeks like animals. Almost the whole city is in flames,” said Dilmurad Ishanov, an Uzbek human rights worker in Osh.
New fires raged across the city today as survivors reported that food and water had become scarce. Armed looters smashed stores, stealing anything from televisions to food.

 
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