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Uzbek Troops Reclaim Control Of Town

Karasu, Uzbekistan; 19 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Uzbek government troops say they have retaken the eastern Uzbek town of Karasu from protesters.

Residents say about 200 troops took part in the operation. No clashes were reported. Some arrests were reported. The town on the Kyrgyz border has a population of about 20,000 population.

The United States and Britain, meanwhile, have called for an independent inquiry into reports that Uzbek security forces killed hundreds of protesters in the nearby city of Andijon.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, speaking on a visit to Washington yesterday, called the recent bloodshed in Uzbekistan "appalling" and said action is needed urgently to address the situation.

"And I call now for an independent international inquiry to find out why the killings happened, the nature of the killings, and who was responsible," Straw said. "That means a credible and transparent investigation with, for example, the involvement of appropriate international bodies."

The Uzbek government says 169 people were killed in Andijon in battles with Islamic radicals on 13 May after armed protesters raided a police station and military barracks and then overran a prison, releasing some 600 inmates. Opposition activists say at least 745 people were killed -- more than 500 in Andijon and about 200 in nearby Pakhtaobod -- mostly civilians.

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