Kyrgyz ethnic conflict toll nearing 2000: Report

Last Updated: Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 18:48

Moscow: The death toll in the week-long
ethnic violence in south Kyrgyzstan could cross 2000 mark with
over 70,000 refugees fleeing their homes to neighbouring
Uzbekistan amid the worst humanitarian crisis since the
collapse of the former Soviet Union.

"The real death toll in inter-ethnic clashes in
southern Kyrgyzstan has exceeded 1,800, nearly 10 times higher
than the official figures," state-owned news agency RIA
Novosti reported quoting a `Secret Service source`.
The striking difference from official figures could be
explained by "objective reasons."

"Firstly, following local Islamic customs, many
families bury their dead on the first day, before the sunset.
Secondly, because of the collapse of local administrative
bodies there is no one to report on casualties.

"Moreover, in some places the entire families died in
the clashes and no one could report on their deaths," the
agency`s source explained.

Latest official reports put the death toll at 191,
with over 2,000 injured.

However, interim president Rosa Otunbayeva had also
conceded that the real figure could be much higher.

The ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbek groups in
southern Kyrgyzstan broke out in the city of Osh on June 11
and then spread to the neighbouring Jalalabad region.

The rioting undermined attempts to bring stability
following a bloody uprising in April that forced President
Kurmanbek Bakiyev to step down. Authorities accuse the deposed
president and his family of stoking the rioting to thwart a
June 27 referendum that would give the interim government
more legitimacy.
The interim Kyrgyz government has alleged that
attackers hired by Bakiyev set off the bloodshed by shooting
at both Kyrgyz and Uzbeks, who have a history of ethnic
tensions.

Thousands of Uzbeks remain fearful of returning from
border areas and are awaiting their chance to enter camps on
the Uzbekistan side.

Russia, China and US have started to send humanitarian
aid to the conflict hit area and the UN Secretary General Ban
ki Moon has assured Uzbek President Islam Karimov of full
support to Uzbekistan, which is bearing the brunt of massive
refugee influx from neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, June 17, 2010 - 18:48

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