Violence in Kyrgyzstan appears to have begun with five coordinated attacks and has taken on an inter-ethnic character that could spiral out of control, the U.N. human rights office warned on Tuesday.
The office of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has collected eyewitness accounts, including from U.N. staff, in Osh and Jalalabad, her spokesman Rupert Colville said.
"We have strong indications that this event was not a spontaneous inter-ethnic clash -- that it was to some degree orchestrated, targeted and well-planned," Colville told a news briefing in Geneva.
"Several of these reports suggest that the incident began with five simultaneous attacks in Osh involving men wearing balaclavas and carrying guns. It looked like they were seeking to provoke a reaction," he said.
Colville said that one of the attacks was on a gym which he said was "known to be the haunt of a criminal gang" in Osh. "Targeting that gym was likely to provoke a reaction."
"So it might be wrong to cast it, at least in origin, as an inter-ethnic conflict. There seems to be other agendas driving it initially. But once it start to take off on ethnic lines, then of course you start to get a clear divide and tit-for-tat reactions which is what's so particularly dangerous," he said.
At least 170 people have been killed in the violence which erupted in the ex-Soviet Central Asian state last Thursday night and may soon have driven 100,000 refugees across the border to Uzbekistan.
The interim government, which assumed power after the president was overthrown in April, has accused supporters of the ousted president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, of stoking ethnic conflict. Bakiyev, who is in exile in Belarus, has denied this allegation.
The U.N. human rights office was not in a position to make any direct accusations against any particular individuals or groups at this point, according to Colville.
"Clearly the most important thing is that the violence stops. It needs to stop, it is terribly dangerous.
"Inter-ethnic conflicts, once they start to spiral out of control, can really become very, very hard to rein in."
Related news reports:Last Mod: 15 Haziran 2010, 15:01