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Government Regains Control In South Kyrgyzstan; One Dead In Fighting

  • RFE/RL

Kyrgyz security forces in Osh try to stabilize the situation in the southern city on May 14.

Kyrgyz security forces in Osh try to stabilize the situation in the southern city on May 14.

Kyrgyz authorities say at least one person has died in clashes in the south of the country between supporters of the interim government and loyalists of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiev.

Later in the day, interim authorities said they had regained control across the region after pro-Bakiev supporters occupied provincial government buildings in at least three cities.

The Health Ministry said 63 others were injured during clashes in Jalal-Abad.

The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek expressed concern and called for a peaceful resolution to the "problems that have caused this situation."

The clashes came as supporters of the interim government retook control of government buildings in all three southern provinces -- Jalal-Abad, Osh, and Batken -- that had been occupied by Bakiev loyalists on May 13.

Protesters carry an injured man through the streets in Jalal-Abad.
The interim government later said it had arrested the organizers of the May 13 unrest.

Speaking in Bishkek on May 14, the head of Kyrgyzstan's interim government, Roza Otunbaeva decried the violence and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"Our tactics will be the following -- to capture them alive, all of them who are there," Otunbaeva said. "In that building, all those who decide to turn against the people, who shoot at people, these people will definitely be brought to justice."

Prosecutor-General Baytemir Ibraev said the clashes had revealed a new threat to the country's stability.

"To our great regret, the main threat to Kyrgyzstan is not terrorists, not religious extremists, but Bakiev and his close circle," Ibraev said.

Gunfire was heard in the city of Jalal-Abad early on May 14 as supporters of the interim government tried to retake the provincial government building from a pro-Bakiev crowd.

RFE/RL's correspondent in Jalal-Abad, Rysbai Abdraimov, said doctors there were treating injuries that included gunshot wounds.

Abdraimov reported that at around 10 a.m. a demonstration by Bakiev supporters started in front of the local government building. Two former governors under Bakiev gave speeches calling for "legitimate governance" to be restored and that Bakiev should be returned to office.

"At this time, supporters of the interim government came and the two crowds clashed with each other," Abdraimov said. "First they were throwing stones, then we could hear gunshots."

Our correspondent said said hundreds of Bakiev supporters had gathered in front of the provincial government building, while a crowd of interim government supporters was standing some 350 meters away, around the city's cinema.

Bakiev supporters throw stones as they defend the administration headquarters in Osh on May 14.
Bakiev loyalists took control of Jalal-Abad's government office after protest demonstrations on May 13. Protesters forced the provincial governor -- appointed by the interim government -- to flee and reinstated a former, pro-Bakiev governor and his deputy.

'Back To Normal' In Other Cities

Elsewhere in the south, the interim government reinstated its authority in Osh and Batken provinces, hours after pro-Bakiev protesters briefly occupied local administrative buildings in both cities.

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports that some 1,000 supporters of the interim government broke into the Osh provincial government building to regain control.

Sooronbai Jeenbekov, the governor appointed by the interim government, took his office back. On May 13, pro-Bakiev protesters had forced Jeenbekov to flee the government building.

WATCH: Clashes erupted in Osh as supporters of the country's interim government regained control of a key administration building, seized a day earlier by supporters of the ousted president.



Ismail Isakov, the acting defense minister, said some protesters in Osh had reassured him they wouldn't come back to stage demonstrations.

Isakov was sent to Osh by the interim government on May 13 when the situation became volatile in the city.

"The situation in the south is good. There is no need for concern. In Osh, there were some shortcomings, but all of them are over now," Isakov said.

"Those young [protesters] understand they were at fault. They were in good spirits and told us that they won't bring the crowd back into the streets."

RFE/RL correspondents in Batken, which is also back under interim government control, said the police presence had been strengthened around government buildings, the telecommunications office, and the city's airport.

Supporters of the interim government assault the administration headquarters in Osh after it was seized by Bakiev supporters.
The Batken border post on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border was open today, while the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border remains closed at Uzbekistan's initiative.

Meanwhile, interim government officials said they arrested Usen Sydykov, a former head of the presidential administration and adviser to the ousted president, this morning in the town of Nookat in Osh Province.

The interim government said Sydykov was one of the main organizers of the latest unrest in the south. The Prosecutor-General's Office has opened a criminal case against him.

Communist leader Iskhak Masaliev was also arrested, according to RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service.

Almazbek Atambaev, deputy head of the interim government, said the government is taking measures to assert its control in southern provinces.

He said that the administration had "10 days to organize a commission" to bring the south back under control, and that Roza Otunbaeva, the head of Kyrgyzstan's self-proclaimed interim government had appointed him to head it. "She also made me responsible for the security forces."

Support has been strongest for Bakiev in the south, the ousted president's birthplace.

Bakiev was toppled in the wake of bloody antigovernment protests in April, which brought the interim government to power. He is currently based in Belarus.

The interim government has not yet been formally recognized by any country, although some high-ranking foreign officials and international organizations have had contacts with interim officials.

written by Farangis Najibullah based on RFE/RL Kyrgyz Service material and agency reports
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