Turmoil continues in Southern Kyrgyzstan
AKIPress reports continued conflict in Osh and Jalalabad. Incidentally, the agency singles out an apparent relative of the ex-president as a potential agent provocateur in the latter report. They also say that another possible riot leader, a “well-known figure in the country”, has been arrested. The military forces in Jalalabad are apparently considering the riot a coup d’etat.
Several police officers have been killed. This blogger recounts the story of one, who died defending his home, as well as the general reign of fear pervading Osh. As Michael Hancock of The Registan has noted, at the moment we’re dependent upon information from forums and twitter feeds, which is not always reliable. Maintaining a reliable internet connection appears to be difficult, with outsiders, even those within Kyrgyzstan, having only the hearsay of residents locked inside their houses to go on (reader discretion is advised for that last link).
We have not heard from our Southern team in quite some time; I will be trying to contact them again today. Until contact can be re-established, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to describe the situation, much less hope for a swift end to the violence. We hope that our team is simply being safe. Update 12.30: Fortunately, we have finally been able to re-establish contact with our Southern team and stringers. The situation in Osh is calm for the moment but extremely tender. A reader has commented on an earlier neweurasia post,
The city is for the most part quiet — people are out on the street trying to get food. Ethnic militias are holding certain neighborhoods and only letting ambulances and army through – not private citizens or militias.
I agree with Hancock that the military presence is clearly not enough. A military patrol in Jalalabad was almost hi-jacked by gangs of Kyrgyz men, this despite the fact that they now have shoot-to-kill orders. * When we consider the videos on YouTube and BBC of youths riding on top of tanks, it doesn’t give an impression of order, much less justice, at all. As Hancock remarks, “It doesn’t take much more than this to make people start using the G-word.”
Indeed, Uzbekistan officials are saying that at least 30,000 Kyrgyzstani Uzbeks have crossed the border; one even told RIA Novosti news agency that 75,000 have fled. When we consider that Uzbeks only make up approximately one million inhabitants of Kyrgyzstan’s total five million peple, even the low estimate is downright shocking.
*Update 12.30: neweurasia’s Nils reports from Bishkek that volunteers are joining the military for assignment in the South.