Kyrgyzstan Asks Russia to Help Quell Ethnic Riots


From Philip P. Pan, the Washington Post:  The leader of Kyrgyzstan’s fragile interim government urged Russia to send peace-keeping troops Saturday to quell ethnic violence that has left scores dead and prompted a panicked exodus from the former Soviet republic, which hosts a key U.S. air base.

But the Kremlin said the situation did not yet call for military intervention and pledged instead to send humanitarian aid and help evacuate the wounded.

Thousands of frightened ethnic Uzbeks in the nation’s south were fleeing toward the Uzbekistan border as President Roza Otunbayeva acknowledged her government had lost control of Osh, the country’s second-largest city.

Witnesses said gangs of young Kyrgyz men armed with guns and metal bars set fire to Uzbek neighborhoods on the second day of clashes that have killed at least 75 people and injured more than 900 others, many suffering from gunshot wounds. …

The impoverished Central Asian nation is the only country in the world that hosts both American and Russian air bases. If Moscow agrees to the request, it is likely to gain greater leverage over the future of the U.S. facility, which is critical to supplying NATO forces in Afghanistan. …

Azaimbek Beknazarov, the senior law enforcement official in the interim government, told reporters the authorities have been forced to rely on volunteers. "We will run out of strength within the next two days if no assistance comes," he said. (photo: AP)

From News Agency 24kg:  NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia Robert F. Simmons and the President of transition period of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbayeva discussed Public Security Issues.

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