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If residents of the conflict-stricken southern Kyrgyz city of Osh are still in a mood to celebrate the New Year, they'll have to do it without fireworks.

The city's mayor has banned the use of fireworks and gun powder. And, unlike previous years, there won't be a Christmas tree -- or a New Year's tree as it known in the region -- in Osh's central square.

Anyone who wants to throw a party to celebrate the New Year will have no choice but to do it quietly inside their homes as the authorities have also banned festive events in restaurants, cafes, bars, and all other public places.

The office of the mayor cited security concerns as a reason for the ban, and sought to explain it as an effort to prevent acts of extremism and terrorism in the city.

Osh and the rest of the southern Kyrgyz region saw violent ethnic clashes last June that killed at least 400 people and forced thousands of others from their homes.

-- Farangis Najibullah

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