Kyrgyz protesters take regional governor 'hostage'

Kyrgyz protesters took a regional governor hostage when they stormed a government building in the northwestern town of Talas, the opposition and witnesses said.

Kyrgyz protesters take regional governor 'hostage'

Kyrgyz protesters took a regional governor hostage when they stormed a government building in the northwestern town of Talas, the opposition and witnesses said.

"The building (government headquarters) has been taken over. The governor is here. He has been taken hostage," Koisun Kurmanaliyeva, the Talas representative of the opposition Ata-Meken party, told Reuters from inside the building.

Police earlier denied that the building had been taken over and there was no official confirmation from the Talas authorities that governor Beishen Bolotbekov had been seized.

Discontent in the Central Asian nation has been on the rise due to what the opposition says is growing public frustration with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's government.

Kurmanaliyeva said about 5,000 activists were protesting on the streets of Talas, a town tucked away in a picturesque valley on the Kyrgyz border with Kazakhstan.

Witnesses said police used tear gas to break up protesters after they broke into the headquarters building during an opposition protest on the main city square.

"They got into the building. It's been completely taken over," Tatty Jumanaliyev, a local rights activist, told Reuters from the scene.

Two witnesses said they heard gun shots but that could not be independently confirmed.

Rakhmatillo Akhmedov, a police spokesman in the capital Bishkek, confirmed protesters had broken into the government headquarters but denied they had taken over the building.

"Law enforcement agents took measures within the law to maintain stability and security," he said. "A chaotic crowd did break into the building. The crowd failed to take it over."

He gave no other details but said the situation was under control.

Gulbara Imankulova, a press freedom campaigner, said from the scene in Talas that a separate crowd was headed towards a local police headquarters to free a group of activists detained during a separate rally on Monday.

Last month, Kyrgyzstan marked the fifth anniversary of a violent revolt that toppled its previous president and brought Bakiyev to power.

The opposition, which originally supported Bakiyev, has demanded that the Kyrgyz leader urgently tackle corruption, fire his relatives from senior government positions and abolish high utility fees.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Nisan 2010, 16:19

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