Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin: Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's Plan for Putin: Will Russian Leader Bend After New Sanctions?

Read more

FOCUS

Pakistan's Ahmadis living in fear of extremist attacks

Read more

  • Israel announces four-hour truce after deadly strike on UN school

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • Scores trapped as landslide hits Indian village

    Read more

  • Dozens killed in stampede at Guinea rap concert

    Read more

  • US and EU slap Russia with fresh sanctions over Ukraine

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Europe launches last resupply ship to space station

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

  • Calls mount to ban France’s ‘violent’ Jewish Defence League

    Read more

Asia-pacific

Death toll mounts in uprising against Kyrgyz President

Video by Lorna SHADDICK , Jade BARKER

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-04-07

Clashes between opposition and police Wednesday resulted in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries. The opposition are protesting against President Bakiyev, who they accuse of authoritarianism. The interior minister may be among the victims.

REUTERS - Kyrgyz troops opened fire on anti-government protesters on Wednesday outside the offices where President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was sheltering from clashes that have killed dozens of people, a Reuters witness said.

A group of at least 10 government soldiers were shooting with automatic weapons from the government headquarters towards demonstrators, a Reuters cameraman said.

But a group of protesters, waving red-and-yellow Kyrgyz flags, arrived in the main square on an armoured personnel carrier seized from the military.

UNCERTAINTY OVER INTERIOR MINISTER KONGANTIYEV'S FATE (AFP)

A police source said Interior Minister Moldomus Kongantiyev had been killed in the northwest hub of Talas where the first protests erupted.
  
Kongantiyev was attacked by protestors who had also taken deputy prime minister Akylbek Zhaparov captive, the Kabar Kyrgyz state news agency reported.
  
An interior ministry spokesman, Rakhmatullo Akhmedov, later said Kongantiyev was alive but acknowledged the government had little information on the situation in Talas, saying it was "checking" reports the minister was taken hostage.

Huge plumes of black smoke were billowing around the centre of Bishkek, the capital of the impoverished Central Asian state of 5.3 million people. There was intense gunfire in the centre of Bishkek and a series of blasts. Protesters were dragging wounded people covered in blood away from the square.

"There are dozens of dead bodies, all with gunshot wounds," Akylbek Yeukebayev, a doctor at a Bishkek hospital told Reuters.

Ex-Soviet Kyrgyzstan hosts a U.S. military air base that helps support troops in Afghanistan, as well as a Russian base.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov, who earlier dismissed the protesters in Talas as "bandits", told Reuters by telephone that he and the president were both working in their offices. "We daren't even look out of the window," Kamil Sydykov, the prime minister's spokesman, said by telephone from inside the presidential building.

Some 1,000 people stormed the prosecutor-general's office in the capital and were breaking windows and tossing out computers and office equipment, a Reuters reporter said. Opposition activists also took control of state television channel KTR.

"The political violence is likely to continue in Kyrgyzstan," said Lilit Gevorgyan, political analyst at IHS Global Insight. "Given (Bakiyev's) resolve in recent years to concentrate power in his hands only, it is difficult to see how a political compromise may be found."

Kyrgyzstan receives aid from both Russia and the United States as well as from neighbouring China. Bishkek also relies on remittances from migrant workers in Russia; payments that have dwindled in the last year as Russia's economy has suffered.

"The country still has an inherent vulnerability which in an environment of economic dislocation can easily be sparked off into a new cycle of violence," said Christopher Granville of Trusted Sources Research in London.

"The drop in remittances is a very important part of the explanation for the latest civic violence," he said.

Unrest spreads

Protesters seized government buildings in three other towns. In one town, Talas, Kyrgyz First Deputy Prime Minister Aklybek Japarov and Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongantiyev were badly beaten. Kongantiyev was forced to shout: "Down with Bakiyev!", two witnesses said.

The opposition in Kyrgyzstan has been demanding that Bakiyev, who himself came to power in a popular revolt in 2005, tackle corruption and fire his relatives from senior positions.

Russia called for restraint. "We would like to make an urgent appeal to the hostile parties to refrain from the use of force to avoid bloodshed," Andrei Nesterenko, spokesman for Russia's Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.

The Kyrgyz government declared a state of emergency and said a curfew would be enforced between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in Bishkek and three other regions of Kyrgyzstan.

Bakiyev, from the south of Kyrgyzstan, has angered clans from Bishkek, Talas and other regions by appointing in his own kinsmen to senior positions, and excluding others from power, said Reinhard Krumm, director of a Moscow think-tank.

The protests spread to the capital after riots which began in Talas the day before and continued into Wednesday.

"We will stay here until the end, no matter what the government does," Talas Kadyraliyev, a 45-year-old local opposition activist, told Reuters from the scene.

In Naryn, a town in central Kyrgyzstan, more than 1,000 opponents of the president also took over the local government building, witnesses told Reuters. The government headquarters in a southern village, Kerben, were also occupied by protesters.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Bishkek last week and called on the government to do more to protect human rights. Ban was shocked at the loss of life in Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday.

"The Secretary General is shocked by the reported deaths and injuries that have occurred today in Kyrgyzstan. He urgently appeals for dialogue and calm to avoid further bloodshed," Ban's spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said during a transit stop in Moscow.

Date created : 2010-04-07

COMMENT(S)