A police crackdown against suspected Islamic extremists following a recent grenade blast in Osh is sparking concerns among human rights defenders about discrimination against Muslims and harassment of Kyrgyzstan's Uzbek population, the country's largest minority group.
The attack that set off the controversy occurred on November 20, while members of the Interior Ministry Special Forces were conducting a police raid in Osh, the country's southern capital. Though details of the investigation have been kept sealed, official reports state that the blast occurred after police officers took four young men into custody after two of them failed to supply their identity papers when asked. As the group entered Osh's Inspection Directorate, one of the detainees allegedly threw a hand grenade in an attempt to escape. One police officer, Nurlan Sadiev, and the detainee, whose identity has not been released, were killed in the ensuing explosion. The remaining detainees escaped.
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Alisher Khamidov is a PhD candidate at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of Johns Hopkins University in Washington D.C.