OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has taken part along with Kyrgyz Prime Minister Temir Sariev in a ceremony commemorating victims of ethnic clashes five years ago in Kyrgyzstan's southern city of Osh.
Ban and Sariev paid their respects to more than 400 people who died in the June 2010 unrest with a minute of silence and the laying of flowers at a memorial in Osh on June 11 known as Tears of the Mothers, depicting Uzbek and Kyrgyz women.
After the ceremony, Sariev called the clashes "the most tragic events that have ever happened in Kyrgyzstan since obtaining independence" from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Ban called on Osh residents and citizens of Kyrgyzstan in general to preserve peace and interethnic harmony.
Ban later met with local officials to discuss the results of joint Kyrgyz-UN efforts to restore the Osh region economically after the clashes, which also left more than 2,000 people wounded and displaced tens or hundreds of thousands of people, most of them ethnic Uzbeks.
The UN secretary-general arrived in Osh from the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, where he and his wife arrived overnight after a visit to Kazakhstan.
Earlier on June 11, Ban met with Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambaev and discussed UN-Kyrgyz ties and regional issues.
Speaking at an international conference in Bishkek after his talks with Atambaev, Ban called on Kyrgyz authorities to follow through on investigations of the violence between minority Uzbeks and majority Kyrgyz that erupted five years ago, on June 10, 2010, in Osh and another southern Kyrgyz city, Jalal-Abad.
The bloodshed followed the ouster two months earlier of President Kurmanbek Bakiev and raised fears of a descent into violent chaos in Kyrgyzstan, a poor nation of 5.6 million that was providing an important link in the U.S. and NATO supply line to nearby Afghanistan at the time.
In a statement issued on the fifth anniversary of the violence, President Atambaev said the "organizers" of the unrest "will sooner or later be held responsible." As he and other Kyrgyz officials have done in the past, Atambaev blamed Bakiev and "his associates."
An international commission set up to investigate the 2010 clashes found no evidence linking the Bakiev family to the violence. Instead it suggested that the government had failed to recognize the scale of rising Kyrgyz nationalism.
The chairman of the commission, Finnish politician Kimmo Kiljunen, was declared persona non grata by the Kyrgyz parliament after the commission's findings were released in 2011.
With reporting by AFP and AKIPress