Kyrgyzstan: Violence continues, death toll rises

Monday, June 14, 2010

According to a spokesman for the Kyrgyzstan's ministry of health's press-service, at least 97 people have been confirmed dead from recent ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks. Meanwhile, thousands of ethnic Uzbeks have fled to the border with Uzbekistan to escape the ongoing violence.

"Currently, in the regions of Osh and Jhalalabad, 97 people have died. A further 1247 have been hospitalised," a spokeswoman commented. Some reports caution that the actual death toll might be higher than the figures announced.

The violence, now in its third day, initially began in the city of Osh, but has since spread to neighbouring vicinities. A resident in Jalalabad told the Agence France-Presse news service by telephone that "at the current moment, there are shoot-outs going on in the streets." Another witness described there being "a veil of smoke covering the whole city."

Cars and buildings were also been set alight by the fighting groups, with many apartments, stores, and other shops burnt to the ground in Osh. Supplies now have to be shipped in from outside the region, as it is difficult to obtain anything within the city. Meanwhile, the Kyrgyz interim government announced that it would be mobilising part of its armed forces today in an attempt to quell the violence.

A spokesman for the Ministry for Emergency Services said that supplies and medical aid has been sent down to the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border to help the refugees there; as many as 75,000 Uzbeks are crowding the border trying to get into Uzbekistan. They are comprised mainly of children and elderly people; some have gunshot wounds.

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