Osh: Kyrgyzstan arrested 20 people over their suspected role in ethnic clashes, officials said on Sunday, as the military cleared makeshift barricades from Uzbek areas
in the ravaged city of Osh.
The removal of the barricades happened without incident,
despite fears it could reignite the violence in the south of
the Central Asian country that has left up to 2,000 dead and
forced 400,000 from their homes.
"All of the barricades have been lifted in the centre of
the city. Main roads and streets are open to traffic," a
police spokesman told AFP after the army moved in following a
6:00 pm (1200 GMT) deadline for them to be removed.
"Only a few barricades on small streets, dead ends and on
the outskirts of the city remain."
The spokesman said police would not use force to remove
the remaining barricades in Osh, one of the cities worst hit
by the bloodshed, because "that would do nothing but inflame
Uzbek residents in some areas even helped pull down the
roadblocks, quelling fears of fresh outbreaks of last week`s
deadly inter-ethnic clashes between the majority Kyrgyz and
minority Uzbek populations.
Armoured vehicles pushed aside burnt-out cars, concrete
pillars and felled trees that were set up outside Uzbek
districts during the violence.
"Of course we are afraid. But we will not put the
barricades back if it stays calm. Life must return to normal
at some point," said 64-year-old resident Salizhan
Numanzhanov, whose brother was killed in the unrest.
Tensions had not evaporated however, and some residents
said they feared the unrest would return.
In Osh "a special operation" was launched today to seize
weapons that have not been handed in voluntarily by its
residents, interior ministry spokesman Bakit Seitov told
Investigators also launched 90 enquiries for murder,
arson and kidnappings, he said. "Twenty people suspected of
crimes in the incidents in Osh have been arrested," said