Bishkek: Kyrgyzstan's interim government, struggling to reimpose order following the uprising that brought it power, has warned looters and armed assailants that police will use deadly force against them.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko meanwhile announced that the ousted Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev had taken refuge in the ex-Soviet republic, ending days of uncertainty over his whereabouts.
In Kyrgyzstan, interim government leader Roza Otunbayeva issued her warning in an address to the nation late Tuesday, two days after five people died in ethnic clashes over local land rights.
"The interim government is calling on the entire people of Kyrgyzstan with a request to keep calm, suppress provocations, fight back ringleaders and the forces who seek to destroy public peace and interethnic consensus," she said.
"In accordance with law, law enforcement officials will use deadly force in case of armed assaults against civilians, their homes and private property, attempts on their health and life, as well as attacks on civilian and military objects."
The country's new authorities have struggled to quell unrest as angry mobs caused chaos in the capital Bishkek, a day after ethnic riots killed five people.
Around 1,000 people, some armed with sticks, at one point besieged the acting mayor of Bishkek, Isa Omurkulov, in his car, demanding that they be given land, an AFP correspondent witnessed.
More than 100 police supported by armoured vehicles patrolled the village of Mayevka outside Bishkek, the site of Monday's deadly riots in which ethnic Kyrgyz seized plots of land from ethnic Russians and Turks.
"All the provocateurs and ringleaders in the riots will be punished to the full extent of the law," the interim government said in a statement on the Mayevka riots.
The unrest there left five people dead and 40 others injured, interim government officials said.
Mayevka is home to a mix of Russians, Kyrgyz and Meskhetian Turks, a group that lived in Georgia until they were deported to Central Asia by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in 1944.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko meanwhile revealed deposed Kyrgyz president Bakiyev's whereabouts in a speech to his country's parliament Tuesday.
"Bakiyev and his family, four people in all, have been in Minsk since Monday evening, as guests," Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said.
"Today they are here under the protection of our state, and personally of the president," he added.
Bakiyev left Kyrgyzstan last week after being overthrown in a popular uprising that brought the new interim government to power in the volatile Central Asian country, fleeing initially to neighbouring Kazakhstan.
The new government in Kyrgyzstan says it wants to put Bakiyev on trial for the shooting of demonstrators during the uprising earlier this month, in which 85 people were killed.
It also wants one of Bakiyev's sons, Maxim, for alleged corruption.
Lukashenko, often criticised by human rights groups for tolerating no dissent, did not specify which family members Bakiyev had brought with him.
But he told the Belarussian parliament, how the ousted president had appealed for help for the sake of his children.
"Bakiyev asked me to take him in several times. He wasn't asking for his own sake. That's what stunned me and brought me to tears. He said, 'Alexander, take my family. I feel sorry for my children, they're not guilty of anything'."
In Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev voiced support for the interim government in Bishkek, which has pursued friendly ties with Russia.
But Medvedev also ordered Russia's defence minister to take steps to guarantee the safety of Russian citizens in Kyrgyzstan following the land grabs, in a Kremlin statement distributed by Russian news agencies.
And EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said Tuesday the European Union was ready to offer the interim Kyrgyz government political and financial help if it embraced democracy.
"If we are satisfied that the provisional government is committed to a quick return to legitimacy and genuinely wants to join the democratic family, the European Union will be ready to provide the necessary political, financial and technical support," she said.
First Published: Wednesday, April 21, 2010, 12:19