Ousted Kyrgyz leader blamed as death toll reaches to 2000

U.S. envoy for Central Asia visited Kyrgyzstan after the State Department suggested the country's ousted president may be responsible for unrest.

Ousted Kyrgyz leader blamed as death toll reaches to 2000


The U.S. envoy for Central Asia visited Kyrgyzstan on Saturday after the State Department suggested the country's deposed president may be responsible for last week's outburst of ethnic violence.

Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake was in Kyrgyzstan to meet its interim leadership and visit the turbulent south.

The government says as many as 2,000 Uzbeks and Kyrgyz may have been killed in several days of ethnic violence last week. The U.N. says an estimated 1 million people were affected.

In remarks posted on the State Department website, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Kurmanbek Bakiyev, Kyrgyzstan's president who was toppled in a revolt in April, may be to blame.

"Certainly, the ouster of President Bakiyev some months ago left behind those who were still his loyalists and very much against the provisional government," she said.

"There certainly have been allegations of instigation that have to be taken seriously."

Bakiyev, an ethnic Kyrgyz currently in exile in Belarus, has denied any involvement.

Uzbeks and Kyrgyz have blamed the atrocities on each other. Uzbeks say the attacks were led by gangs of Kyrgyz youths and have accused Kyrgyz government troops of aiding armed civilians.

Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva has struggled to assert control in the shattered south where Uzbek neighbourhoods have barricaded themselves against Kyrgyz parts in a tense standoff.

She said Bakiyev loyalists, seeking to avenge their expulsion, are trying to destabilise Kyrgyzstan before a referendum on a new constitution on June 27.

"I think we will be able to prevent any further outbursts," she told Reuters. "God help us stay this way."

The violence is the worst since 1990, when Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev sent troops to Kyrgyzstan, then still part of the Soviet Union, to quell similar unrest.

This time Russia has rejected Kyrgyz pleas for military intervention, although Russian state media reported Moscow was still contemplating sending forces to guard strategic sites.


Barricades, unrest

The violence has set off a wave of refugees, and around 400,000 people, mainly women and children, are crammed into squalid camps and huts on the sun-parched Kyrgyz-Uzbek border.

Blake has visited the camps on the Uzbek side and described the situation as a humanitarian crisis. The U.N.'s World Food Programme said it was distributing 150 tonnes of food.

"The most urgent needs are food, water, shelter and medicines," said Christian Cardon, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross. "The people are usually taking refuge in mosques, farms, villages and also administrative buildings that were emptied during the violence."

The continued presence of Uzbek barricades has added to simmering tensions between the two communities and slowed the delivery of humanitarian aid flown into the region from the United States, Russia and other countries.

Locals in the devastated city of Osh say government troops have joined with marauding gangs during the violence and human rights groups have called for an international probe.

"Amnesty International urges the (Kyrgyz) interim government to immediately react to allegations of collusion of security forces and to send a clear signal that any human rights violations will be prosecuted," Amnesty said in a statement.

Kyrgyzstan is a patchwork of tribes and clans and Bakiyev's departure has set off a fierce fight for control over money in a nation lying on a big drug trafficking route out of Afghanistan.

There has always been rivalry between Kyrgyz people and traditionally richer Uzbeks. But observers say Bakiyev loyalists are playing on ethnic divisions to regain strength.

"Neither Uzbeks nor Kyrgyz are to blame for this," Uzbek President Islam Karimov was quoted as saying. "These disruptive actions were organised and managed from outside."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Haziran 2010, 18:07