The recent ethnic clashes in Osh have sent the local rumor mill into overdrive. Starved of reliable information and isolated in their communities, people have been chewing events over among themselves. In some cases, especially in the Uzbek mahallas (neighborhoods) where people blocked themselves inside for fear of attack, they became convinced that the most unlikely sounding events were talking place beyond the barricades.
One of the most popular topics of conversation has been snipers. In many Uzbek mahallas, inhabitants offer convincing testimony of gunmen targeting their neighborhoods from vantage points. Men barricaded into the Arygali Niyazov neighborhood, for example, testified to seeing gunmen on the upper floors of a nearby medical institute hostel with a view over the district's narrow streets. They said that during the height of the violence these gunmen were covering attackers and looters, assaulting their area with sniper fire. Men in other Uzbek neighborhoods tell similar stories.
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