Kyrgyzstan withdraws foreign troops demand



Kyrgyzstan withdraws foreign troops demand Osh (Kyrgyzstan): Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday withdrew a demand for foreign peacekeepers to calm deadly ethnic unrest in its south that created tens of thousands of refugees and fears of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva said the forces were no longer needed as the unrest between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz around the cities of Jalalabad and Osh was abating after five days of bitter clashes that claimed at least 170 lives.

Uzbekistan accepted tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbek refugees who crossed the border but has now shut the frontier, leaving thousands waiting to cross it in desperate conditions, AFP correspondents reported.

Osh has now essentially been split into two along ethnic lines, with ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz -- heavily armed with guns and spiked baseball bats -- hunkering down in their own districts and not venturing outside.

The fighting has turned much of the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad into smoking wrecks and raised fears over the future viability of the country of 5.3 million where Uzbeks make up 14 per cent of the population.

"There is not a need to send peacekeeping forces," interim leader Roza Otunbayeva told a news conference. "We hope to deal with this situation with our own forces," she added, saying the clashes were now "on the wane".

PTI