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Kyrgyzstan: Militants Release Three Hostages

Bishkek, 1 September 1999 (RFE/RL) - A Kyrgyz presidential spokesman says gunmen who last week seized a group of hostages in southern Kyrgyzstan have released three of their captives. Kanybek Imanaliyev said the released hostages were Kyrgyz policemen. He said the policemen had reported to authorities in the village of Karamyk at midnight but gave no details. Another 13 hostages, including four Japanese geologists and a Kyrgyz general, remained in captivity. Imanaliyev said the policemen, as well as the other hostages, were held on Tajik territory. Hundreds of gunmen entered into southern Kyrgyzstan last week from neighboring Tajikistan. They are believed to be mainly Uzbek Islamic militants opposed to the secular regimes in Uzbekistan and neighboring Central Asian states. Kyrgyz authorities have been trying--so far unsuccessfully--to drive the militants out of the country. Kyrgyzstan has asked Uzbekistan and Russia for help in dealing with the hostage crisis. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev arrived in Uzbekistan today to discuss with Uzbek authorities the situation in Kyrgyzstan.