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Migration official Alik Bayboriyev told the AP that there were 31,800 refugees on the Kyrgyz side of the border near Jalal-Abad, a hard-hit town near Osh.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake, visiting a refugee camp in Uzbekistan about 3 miles from the Kyrgyz border, said he was working to ensure the refugees would be able to return home safely.

Mr. Blake was swamped by crying refugees, mainly older women and children, complaining they were desperate to return home but too fearful to do so.

“We … believe there should be an investigation,” he said. “We are working with the government of Kyrgyzstan to provide security so you can return home safely.”

Mr. Blake asked the refugees if they thought the violence had been organized, as the United Nations and Kyrgyz authorities have suggested.

“Yes, of course it was organized, it all happened so unexpectedly,” answered one refugee, Nasiba Mamyrdzhanova, from Osh, who wore a traditional Uzbek long-sleeved dress with a bright headscarf.

Mr. Blake toured a hospital in the eastern city of Andijan that had taken in 115 wounded refugees, asking doctors about the medical care they were receiving.

In a sign that tensions remain high, hundreds of ethnic Uighurs have fled communities in the capital, Bishkek, after receiving threats that they would be the next targets of violence.

As many as 70,000 Uighurs, a Turkic people with a significant presence in Central Asia and into China’s far western regions, live in or near Bishkek. Most have fled for Kazakhstan, where many have relatives, the vice president of the country’s Uighur community, Zhamaldin Nasyrov, told the AP.

He said unidentified people have visited the communities in jeeps, writing ominous warnings on houses and fences.

“Instigators who want to sow panic act in these villages,” Nasyrov said. “We try to ignore their threats, but we are trying to work out security measures to protect our women and children.”

Kyrgyz authorities have said the violence was sparked deliberately by associates of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the president who was toppled in April. The U.N. has said the unrest appeared orchestrated but has stopped short of assigning blame.

Ethnic Uzbeks on Thursday accused security forces of standing by or helping ethnic-majority Kyrgyz mobs as they slaughtered people and burned neighborhoods. Col. Iskander Ikramov, chief of the Kyrgyz military in the south, rejected allegations of troop involvement but said the army didn’t interfere because it was not supposed to play the role of a police force.

“We are all witnesses to the fact that innocent citizens were fired upon from an armored personnel carrier by soldiers in military uniform. I don’t know whether they were from the government or some third party, but they only shot at Uzbeks,” said Sabir Khaidir, and ethnic Uzbek in Jalal-Abad.

Rakhim Tadjibayev, an ethnic Uzbek whose house was burned down nearby, stepped forlornly around the rubble.

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