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Kyrgyzstan: Protesters Take Nine Policemen Hostages

Bishkek, 6 September 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Protestors in southern Kyrgyzstan today took hostage nine police officers who were attempting to arrest villagers suspected of participating in demonstrations in June. Kyrgyz officials say the officers were taken hostage by about 30 residents of the Kara Suu village in the Aksy region. Interior Ministry spokesman Dzholgoshbek Buzurmankulov said local authorities were negotiating the release of the officers.

Earlier today in southern Kyrgyzstan, the Interior Ministry says more than 100 protesters began a march from the town of Tash-Kumyr to the capital Bishkek, demanding the resignation of Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev. Our correspondent says about 400 protesters are participating in the march.

Earlier this week, Kyrgyz authorities said they did not plan to prevent the marchers from reaching the capital, but would try to prevent any outbreaks of violence such as those that marred demonstrations in southern Kurgyzstan last March.

Opposition deputy Bektur Asanov said thousands of demonstrators plan to gather in Bishkek by 17 September for a large antigovernment protest meeting.