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Kyrgyz Demonstrators Storm Buildings


http://gdb.rferl.org/F651ABDC-BEDB-4F72-A70B-8F3F008CE5DB_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/F651ABDC-BEDB-4F72-A70B-8F3F008CE5DB_mw800_mh600.jpg A police station burns in Jalal-Abad yesterday 21 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Opposition supporters have stormed and occupied several government buildings and the airport in Kyrgyzstan's southern city of Osh.

An RFE/RL correspondent reports that protesters have occupied the regional administration building, a police station, a TV station, as well as the airport today. In recent days, there have also been protests and buildings seized in the city of Jalal-Abad.

Opposition leader Roza Otunbaeva told RFE/RL that some police officers were joining the protestors.

"Law enforcement personnel are taking our side. Yesterday, in Jalal-Abad they were switching sides in massive numbers. Policemen, including high-ranking officers, took off their uniforms, changed into civilian clothes and joined our ranks. So we have substantial support," Otunbaeva said.

Opposition leaders are demanding direct negotiations with President Askar Akaev to resolve the crisis over the 27 February parliamentary elections that the opposition says were rigged to favor the government.

There has been no public comment so far from Akaev on the latest developments.

The U.S. State Department and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe have both urged all parties to begin talks to calm the situation.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev has pledged to seek a negotiated solution following the violence.

For more on the situation, see Kyrgyz Police Battle With Protesters In Southern Cities

For more on the Kyrgyz elections, see RFE/RL's dedicated website Kyrgyzstan Votes 2005
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