One year after ethnic violence rocked southern Kyrgyzstan, leaving over 400 dead, gunshot wounds have been established as the main cause of death. Activists believe the country is still awash with firearms, and security experts say weapons are likely to keep featuring in domestic political struggles, especially as officials seek support from gun-toting associates or even arm themselves.
During the violent overthrow of Kurmanbek Bakiyev in April 2010, protestors seized hundreds of weapons in several cities. Then, in June, security forces lost control of more firearms in the south. But already, before last year’s upheavals, Kyrgyzstan’s porous border with Tajikistan provided a gateway for small arms, traveling along the drug-trafficking routes north from Afghanistan.
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Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist.