Kyrgyz clashes: Indians trapped, Uzbeks flee

The ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan is affecting Indian students too.

Updated: Jun 14, 2010, 15:40 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan is affecting not only Uzbeks and Kyrgyz but also a number of Indians who are in the central Asian country.

Over 100 Indians, a majority of them students, are trapped in Kyrgyzstan`s southern Osh city, which has been hit by ethnic violence for the last three.

Kyrgyzstan`s interim government said on Monday it had arrested a "well-known person" on suspicion of fomenting the worst ethnic riots in 20 years, which have killed at least 117, injured 1,400, and left cities in flames.

Official sources said the Indian mission was in close touch with those trapped in the violence-hit city as well as with the concerned authorities in that country, including their Foreign Ministry, to ensure safety of the Indian community.

Everything possible will be done to ensure the well being and safety of the Indians, the sources said.

They said the mission was monitoring the situation very closely.

In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said, "About 116 Indian nationals are stranded in Southern Kyrgyzstan, due to the ongoing difficult law and order situation.”

“These include around 15 students in the city of Jalal-Abad and around 99 students, a professor and a businessman, in the city of Osh."

"Our Mission was in close and regular touch with several of the Indian nationals, as well as with relevant departments of the Kyrgyz Government, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and security agencies," it said.

"Everything possible is being done to ensure the safety and well-being of the Indian nationals, within the constraints posed by the difficult ground situation," it added.

The Mission in Bishkek was monitoring the developments closely and additional steps would be taken as soon as the situation becomes more conducive, the ministry said.

Situation tense

The Interior Ministry in the Central Asian state, which hosts Russian and US military bases, said the situation in Osh and Jalal-Abad was "tense”.

A report said gangs resumed shooting on Monday at residents and homes in one area of Osh.

The interim government said authorities in Jalal-Abad had made an arrest. It did not disclose the person`s identity, but repeated accusations that supporters of ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was overthrown in April, were behind the violence.

Bakiyev, in exile in Belarus, issued a statement from there on Sunday in which he denied claims he was behind the clashes.

But Kubatbek Baibolov, commandant in Jalal-Abad, said in televised comments: "This is nothing other than an attempt by Bakiyev`s supporters and relatives to seize power."

The ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbek residents began late on Thursday and escalated over the weekend. Witnesses said gangs armed with automatic rifles, iron bars and machetes had set fire to houses and shot fleeing residents.

Kyrgyzstan`s interim government, which assumed power after the April revolt, has been unable to gain full control of the country`s south, which is separated from the north by mountains. It appealed to Russia at the weekend to send in troops.

The renewed turmoil in Kyrgyzstan has fuelled concern in Russia, the United States and neighbour China. Washington uses an air base at Manas in the north of the ex-Soviet state, about 300 km (190 miles) from Osh, to supply forces in Afghanistan.

Uzbeks flee

The leader of the Uzbek community in Kyrgyzstan says more than 200 Uzbeks have been killed in ethnic rioting in the Central Asian nation and 100,000 Uzbeks have fled to the border.

Jallahitdin Jalilatdinov, who heads the Uzbek National Centre, said that 200 Uzbeks have been buried so far. His figure is much higher than the interim government`s estimate of an overall death toll of 117.

Border guards allowed Uzbek aid agencies to give the refugees food, water and diapers.

A report claims hundreds of Uzbeks who had already crossed the border.

(With Agencies’ inputs)