Kyrgyzstan’s provisional government is trying to enforce a state of emergency in southern Jalal-abad Province after inter-ethnic clashes on May 19 between local Kyrgyz and Uzbeks left at least two dead and 71 injured. Amid swirling rumors, groups of Kyrgyz and Uzbek youths in major settlements, including Jalal-abad and Osh, were reportedly organizing into self-defense groups and arming themselves with clubs and brickbats.
Provisional government officials blame supporters of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, whose power base was in Jalal-Abad Province, for stirring up inter-ethnic tension. But witnesses trace the origin of the May 19 violence to actions taken five days earlier, when a local Uzbek community leader, Kadyrjan Batyrov, an official of the Rodina (Motherland) Party, rallied his supporters to help take back the Jalal-Abad provincial government headquarters from Bakiyev supporters. [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive].
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David Trilling is EurasiaNet’s Central Asia news editor.