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Witnesses: Kyrgyz police attack Uzbeks, kill 2
Question of the Day
A funeral litter waited for his body at the entrance to his house for burial before sundown, according to Muslim rites.
Ethnic Uzbeks have accused security forces of standing by or even helping ethnic-majority Kyrgyz mobs as they slaughtered people and burned down neighborhoods. Military officials rejected allegations of troop involvement in the riots and said the army didn’t interfere in the conflict because it was not supposed to play the role of a police force.
Hundreds of thousands of Uzbeks remain in grim camps on both sides of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, fearing to come back despite shortages of food and water and bad sanitary conditions. Their reluctance to return could undermine Sunday’s referendum, seen as essential for the nation’s stability.
“Instead of calming people down, (the authorities) are just creating disturbances. Nobody will go back home now; the refugees are afraid,” said Mamyr Nizamov, head of an Uzbek council of elders in Osh. “When they come, the soldiers all say the same thing: that we have not earned our Kyrgyz citizenship, and then they tear up our passports.”
Another Nariman resident, Alik Umorov, showed a fresh wound on his head, saying that a policeman beat him, took his cell phone and all his cash, and stripped him of his passport.
“The officer beat me over the head with a metal rod,” Mr. Umorov said. “It’s not my fault that I’m an Uzbek.”
An AP photographer saw bloodstains on asphalt and floors, and smashed cars, windows and furniture in houses.
“They knocked my husband’s front teeth out. He’s in the hospital now,” Mukaddas Tuishieva, a 36-year-old housewife and a mother of three, said through tears. “If Kyrgyz soldiers are doing this to us, what am I going to tell my daughters? Where am I going to take them?”
While the provisional government badly needs the vote to anchor its authority, it’s facing strong opposition in the south.
The former police chief for the Osh region, Omurbek Suvanaliyev, harshly criticized the interim government’s push for the referendum, saying it could trigger another wave of ethnic violence.
“Tensions between the Kyrgyz and the Uzbek communities are high,” said Mr. Suvanaliyev, who resigned Sunday in protest against holding the referendum. “The referendum could lead to new clashes.”
Meanwhile, international aid continued arriving. The U.N. World Food Program delivered another planeload of aid to Osh, including food rations for 30,000 people.
Since the outbreak of violence, the WFP has provided an estimated 54,000 people in Osh and Jalal-Abad with food assistance. It said it was opening a humanitarian hub in Osh.
Yuras Karmanau reported from Bishkek, Kyrgystan. Associated Press writers Peter Leonard in Bishkek, Mansur Mirovalev in Moscow and Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.
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