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Thousands Of Protesters Demonstrate In Kyrgyzstan

Violence erupted this morning between Kyrgyz police and protesters (file photo) Bishkek, 20 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Thousands of pro-democracy protesters stormed a police station and forced workers to flee a governor's office in the southern Kyrgyz city of Jalal-Abad today.

Regional government spokesman Orazaly Karasartov said police fled to the roof of their station, firing shots into the air to deter the stone-throwing protesters.

RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports that smoke could be seen rising from the police station and that protesters broke windows.

At least 10,000 people were taking part in the protests and demonstrators had taken over the governor's office in Jalal-Abad.

Today's protest came after police overnight forcibly evicted demonstrators from the governor's office in Jalalabad and another government building in the city of Osh. Hundreds of protesters were reportedly arrested in the latest string of nationwide protests sparked by the 27 February parliamentary elections in which President Askar Akaev's allies fared well.

An earlier report that four people had been killed in the clashes overnight was denied today by Interior Ministry spokesman Nurdin Jangaraev. The report could not be independently confirmed.

Protesters say the polls were flawed and have been demanding Akaev's resignation and new parliamentary elections.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, AP)

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