Interim Prez seeks Russia military help to quell Kyrgyz riots

Last Updated: Saturday, June 12, 2010 - 18:19

Moscow: As ethnic violence spirals out of
control in Kyrgystan, Russian rapid deployment paratroopers
might be readying to enter the strategic central Asian
republic to help quell widespread rioting which has left 63
people dead and 838 wounded.

The Russian forces could respond after the besieged
nation`s President sent an SOS to dispatch troops as violent
mobs continued to rampage through some of the major regions in
the country`s south.

As the country`s second major city Osh slid into chaos
with gun-toting Kyrgyz gangs attacking the Uzbeks, the interim
President Rosa Otunbayeva wrote a letter to President Dmitry
Medvedev to airlift troops to control the rampaging mobs.

Russia could send its rapid deployment paratroopers
regiment to restore calm in Osh as the toll rises to 63 with
838 injured on the second day of ethnic violence between the
Kyrgyz and the minority Uzbeks.

The Defence Ministry in Moscow ruled out the re-
deployment of Russian troops based at the Manas airbase near
capital Bishkek, saying `they have other duties to perform`.

But, Biznes FM radio in a report did not rule out the
possibility of Russian rapid deployment airborne troops based
in Ulyanovsk in Volga region being dropped in Osh and other
violence-hit south Kyrgyz regions.

Osh was reported to be black with smoke as Kyrgyz men,
armed with guns and iron rods attacked houses and businesses
of Uzbeks, triggering an exodus by the minority community
towards Uzbekistan.

The interim government sent troops and armour into the
bloodied city, which is the stronghold of ousted president
Kurmanbek Bakiyev, but they failed to stop the violence. Air
Force helicopters were hovering over the city where violence
continued for the second day.

"The situation in Osh has spun out of control,"
Otunbayeva said in her communication to Medvedev, as the three
major powers US, China and Russia appealed for restoration of
calm.

Both Moscow and Washington have military bases in the
former USSR republic, located just outside capital Bishkek.

"Attempts to establish law and order and start a
dialogue have failed and fighting and rampaging is continuing
with impunity. We need outside forces to quell the
confrontation," the interim President said.

She also said that there was acute shortage of food
and medicines in the embattled southern Kyrgyztan after almost
all the stores had been looted and torched.

Interfax reported about the beginning of a military
operation in Osh to recapture the city centre under control of
armed gangs involved in looting and arson attacks on Uzbeks.

"We need the deployment of military contingents from
other countries. We have asked Russia for this. I have written
a letter to this effect to President Dmitry Medvedev,"
Otunbayeva was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.

Blaming the deposed president Bakiyev for sparking
anti-Uzbek violence in Osh and other southern regions,
Otunbayeva said: "the situation in Osh has sharply
deteriorated and could lead to unpredictable consequences."

"We are ready to start negotiations with Russia any
moment for receiving its peacekeeping contingent in Osh,"
Otunbayeva said.

In Moscow, scores of ethnic Uzbeks gathered in front
of Kyrgyz and Uzbek embassies seeking prompt action to end
anti-Uzbek violence in the Central Asian republic.

Being a public holiday on Russia Day, the police acted
to send extra force to protect the Kyrgyz embassy.

The ethnic violence in Kyrgyztan is now spreading to
the capital city as the administration appealed to all former
policemen and war veterans to help contain the clashes.

Oyunbayeva also spoke on phone to Russian Prime
Minister Vladimir Putin. Russia has a pact with its erstwhile
republics which can be invoked to send Russian forces into the
countries.

The government has declared a state of emergency in
and around Osh, but the city seems to be burning with no let
up in violence.

Human rights groups are warning of a humanitarian
crisis brewing in the region as the minority Uzbeks are
fleeing to Uzbekistan using any means of transport. All roads
leading to the border are reported to be choked with people.

The official death toll given out by the health
ministry said 63 people had been killed so far and 838 were
wounded. They said hospitals were overflowing with casualties.
Like the US, Russia also has an airbase at Kant near
Bishkek, where a battalion of crack paratroopers was deployed
by Medvedev in April after the fall of Bakiyev government in
the wake of violent anti-government protests.

Otunbayeva has also ordered opening of the Kyrgyz
border with Uzbekistan to allow fleeing ethnic Uzbek women and
children take refuge in the neighbouring country.

"The situation in Osh remains very difficult," an
Interior Ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying by RIA
Novosti.

A correspondent of Moscow based Biznes FM reported
that dead bodies were lying on the streets of Osh and huge
clouds of smoke could be seen hanging the Uzbek residential
areas.

Medics have been unable to reach many of the injured
people due to the fighting.

Last night UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon had
appealed for calm and urged the Kyrgyz interim government to
retain inter-ethnic harmony in the country.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, June 12, 2010 - 18:19

comments powered by Disqus