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Bishkek Mayor Says Kyrgyz Ex-Leader Provoked Bloody Clashes

Bishkek Mayor Isa Omurkulov

Bishkek Mayor Isa Omurkulov

BISHKEK -- Bishkek Mayor Isa Omurkulov has said in court that people associated with former President Kurmanbek Bakiev distributed weapons to antigovernment protesters last year in order to "provoke deadly clashes," RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Bakiev and 27 of his former associates -- many of them close relatives -- are on trial for either having fired upon, or giving the command to open fire upon, unarmed demonstrators.

Nearly 90 people were killed and some 400 injured. Twelve others died of their wounds weeks and months later.

Most of the defendants are in detention or under house arrest, but Bakiev and several others are being tried in absentia.

Omurkulov said during the trial on September 12 that he had seen men distributing weapons to demonstrators on April 7, 2010 near the building of current Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev's Forum company.

Demonstrators had gathered at that site to support the opposition, of which Atambaev was a main leader.

Atambaev, Omurkulov, and several other opposition leaders were arrested on April 6 in an attempt to prevent opposition forces from organizing growing demonstrations in Bishkek and other parts of the country.

Read more in Kyrgyz here