An Uzbek woman waits for her family to cross the border from Kyrgyzstan. (Photo: Dalton Bennett)
Interethnic clashes spread in southern Kyrgyzstan on June 12, as the provisional government struggled to stop the violence and Russia expressed reluctance to quickly intervene.
As the violence entered its third day, Uzbeks, who comprise perhaps a third of the population in southern Kyrgyzstan, appeared to be a minority group under siege. Some Uzbek families in Osh City were reportedly trying to go into hiding, or barricade themselves inside their homes. Thousands of others were seeking a safe haven in neighboring Uzbekistan.
Panic gripped predominantly Uzbek areas elsewhere, including the towns of Aravan, Tepekurgan, Chekabad and Nurabad. Some residents hastily fled their homes and headed for the Uzbek border when rumors began to circulate that Kyrgyz mobs were preparing to enter the towns.
"Intervention from outside countries is of urgent need here. Whatever is going to stop this unrest, we are for it," said an ethnic Uzbek in Aravan, situated about 20 kilometers from Osh, near the Uzbek border. So far, at least 69 deaths have been confirmed as a result of the interethnic clashes.
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Alisher Khamidov is a journalist based in Osh.
Violence Spreading in Southern Kyrgyzstan; Uzbekistan Reacts Slowly to Refugee Crisis