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Uzbek Refugees Depart Kyrgyzstan For Romania

Uzbek refugees in Bishkek before their flight Bishkek, 29 July 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Some 440 Uzbek refugees who fled to neighboring Kyrgyzstan in May are on a plane flying to Romania today, where they will be temporarily housed, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek reported.

A UNHCR spokesperson said 15 refugees -- detained at Uzbekistan's request -- remain in a detention center in the
southern Kyrgyz city of Osh. Kyrgyz authorities have said the 15 will not be freed until officials are sure they did not
commit serious crimes in Uzbekistan.

The 455 refugees fled eastern Uzbekistan after an insurrection and a military crackdown on 13 May. Uzbek officials put the death toll from the violence in the city of Andijon at 187, saying most of those killed were extremists. But rights advocates say the death toll is much higher, and that civilians were killed.

International rights groups have expressed concern that the Uzbek refugees could face torture if returned home.

(RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service)