Moscow/Bishkek, 31 August 1999 (RFE/RL) - Kyrgyzstan's first deputy
prime minister, Boris Silayev, was in Moscow today to ask for Russian
support in battling armed Islamic militants who have siezed control of five
villages in southern Kyrgyzstan. The militants--who entered Kyrgyzstan last week from neighboring Tajikistan--are believed to be mainly Uzbeks opposed to the secular regimes in Uzbekistan and other Central Asian states. They are holding a
number of hostages, including four Japanese geologists, but have not stated
any demands. Some 5,000 residents have fled the area. Interfax quotes Silayev as saying after a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that Moscow is prepared to send military aid but not troops.
ITAR-TASS reports that Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev will
fly to Uzbekistan tomorrow to discuss the Kyrgyz crisis. Uzbekistan has
been helping Kyrgyzstan fight the militants, but a botched air raid by
Uzbek planes on a village on the weekend killed and injured several
According to Russian news agencies, fighting continued in the
mountainous region last night. The regional administration head of the
Chong-Alai district today confirmed the clashes to an RFE/RL correspondent.
However, General Bolot Januzakov--security chief from the Kyrgyz
presidential administration--said at a press conference in Bishkek that
the region remained quiet yesterday and today.