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Uzbek Standoff Ends When Suspect Blows Self Up

Tashkent, 1 April 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Police in Uzbekistan say a man who had been surrounded by security forces blew himself up early today, ending a standoff in the capital Tashkent.

Police denied earlier reports that there had been hostages with the suspected militant.

An RFE/RL correspondent spoke to a police officer who declined to identify himself. "He [the suspect] was by himself. There were no hostages. The reason it [the operation] took so long was that we had to check if there were any bombs, mines, etc. Everthing was fine. Neighbors [who were evacuated] are going to be back [to their homes]," the police officer said.

Yesterday, up to several people were reported wounded in an explosion that authorities linked to the suspected militant who killed himself.

The death of the man brings to 43 the number of people reported killed in Uzbekistan since 28 March in a wave of bombings and clashes that authorities have blamed on Islamic militants. No group has claimed responsibility.

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