Ethnic Uzbeks Barricade Themselves in Homes in Osh; Russia Sends Humanitarian Flight
Ethnic Uzbeks in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh are barricading themselves into their homes and desperately sending out text messages on their cell phones as shooting continues outside and Kyrgyz gangs are raiding nearby homes, the independent online Uzbek news service uznews.net reported.
Uzbek families in Osh say they do not see any protection coming from Kyrgyz forces and feel vulnerable to attack, uznews.net reported. A young man who gave his first name as Muzaffar and has been sending out text messages says he has barricaded himself and his family in their home in Osh. He said Kyrgyz gangs were going house to house in ethnic Uzbek neighborhoods.
We have small children at home, we want you to open up a corridor for us, we're ready to go even to Uzbekistan.
Russia has sent a humanitarian flight with tents and first aid to the Manas airport for assistance to Osh, regnum.ru reported. Although Roza Otunbayeva, interim president of Kyrgyzstan has asked Russia to send peace-keepers to help control the riots in Osh, Russian troops have not been sent.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said in a statement issued in Geneva that it is "extremely concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in southern Kyrgyzstan" and urged restraint. Séverine Chappaz, the deputy head of the ICRC's mission in Kyrgyzstan, who is currently in Osh, said:
Things are getting worse and worse by the hour. We hear reports of tens of thousands of people fleeing the fighting and looting, and heading towards the Kyrgyz border with Uzbekistan. The electricity and gas have been cut off, meaning there are also no water supplies. Shops and markets are closed, leading to fears of a lack of food, especially in the hospitals and places of detention.
As of 8:30 pm Osh time, the death toll was reported at 69 with a more than 900 reported wounded, AKIpress.org reported. The Kyrgyz Health Ministry has reported 945 wounded of whom 69 have died, 532 have been hospitalized and 444 have been treated as outpatients. AKIpress reports continued gunfire and explosions in Jalal-Abad.
One policeman has been reported killed, says regnum.ru.
Moscow says it will not immediately send troops, AP reported.
Four AN-24 planes with troop reinforcements from the Kyrgyz police academy have arrived in Osh, regnum.ru reported.
In the second day of bloody conflict in Osh, the official number of deaths confirmed in morgues by the Kyrgyz Health Ministry is 49, Bakyt Seitov, acting head of the Interior Ministry press center told uznews.net. Seitov said the prosecutor's office has opened up an investigation into violent ethnic conflict in Osh. The Kyrgyz Interior Ministry has continued to rush additional forces to Osh from Bishkek and other areas. Bakhytbek Alymbekov, first deputy Interior Minister, is in charge of troop operations in Osh.
According to AP reports, ethnic Uzbeks in Osh have begun to crowd the border of Uzbekistan, throwing planks over ditches to make their way to safety.
Sobir Mambetov, a leader of a volunteer militia made up of former Afghan veterans at the Bishkek mayor's office, to uznews.net that some Uzbeks want to cross the border into Uzbekistan, but these are mainly refugees who fled into Kyrgyzstan after the unrest in Andijan in May 2005. He said he and about 100 other volunteers were heading to Osh to help maintain order.
The consulate of Uzbekistan in Kyrgyzstan is closed and the Uzbek ambassador has not been in the country for two months, a Kyrgyz guard told uznews.net.