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Kyrgyz President Backs Use of Force In Prison Riots

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev (file photo) (RFE/RL) Bishkek, 2 November (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev says his government acted forcefully to put down jail unrest to show it is determined to put an end to instability, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported.

Law enforcement officers fought with rioting inmates in several prisons across Kyrgyzstan on 1 November. Authorities say four inmates were killed, while other reports say about 20 of them died.

The government insists inmates started shooting first.

However, Kyrgyzstan's ombudsman, Tursunbai Bakir-uulu, has criticized the authorities for the use of force, saying the problem could have been resolved through negotiations.

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Feliks Kulov today, Bakiev warned he will not hesitate to use force against those using force themselves.

"What happened yesterday was a completely legal process in any democratic country," Bakiev said. "Dear journalists, ask yourself the following question: What happened here on the 20th of October, when a member of parliament was killed and members of official commissions went to the [prison]? If this happened in the United States, if they would kill a congressman who would enter this area or [if it happened] in Europe, some action would be taken within an hour, without calling in any ombudsman. [Authorities] wouldn't ask anyone. They would bring about order within an hour to deal with such actions."

The rioting was reportedly sparked by the attempted removal of around 20 prisoners, including criminal gang leader Aziz Batukaev, from Prison No. 31 near Bishkek.

Lawmaker Tynychbek Akmatbaev and two other officials were killed in Prison No. 31 during a hostage crisis on 20 October.

(with Reuters/AFP/AP)