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Kyrgyz Report: September 3, 1999

3 September 1999

General Bolot Januzakov, head of the security and defense department of the Presidential administration, and Kuban Tabaldiev, Director of the Kabar information agency of Kyrgyzstan told a news conference in Bishkek on 3 September that the Kyrgyz government has received a letter from General Anarbek Shamkeev, taken hostage on 22 August, and Tursunek Akunov, Chairman of the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan in the village occupied by rebels.

Januzakov said the letter was written on 29 August and was delivered to the government by local residents earlier on 3 September. He said experts have examined the letter and it is authentic. He refused to say what is written in the letter.

Tabaldiev told the meeting that Zubair Ibn Abdul Rahim, who claims to be a spokesman for Tohir Yuldashev, military commander of the Uzbek Islamist Movement, UIM, telephoned him earlier today. The conversation lasted about 5 minutes. Tabaldiev refused to reveal the contents of the conversation. Januzakov added it is not clear whether it was a real representative of the UIM. Zubair Ibn Abdul Rahim called BBC Central Asia and Caucasus Service on 31 August and said they would suggest exchanging hostages in Kyrgyzstan for members of the UIM now imprisoned in Uzbekistan.

Rebels from neighboring Tajikistan, believed to be ethnic Uzbeks, entered Kyrgyz territory for the second time on 22 August and occupied five villages of the Batken district of Osh region. They are holding as hostages some 300 people, including Kyrgyz General Anarbek Shamkeev and four Japanese geologists.Later, the rebels took hostage 11 people in the neighboring Chong-Alai district, but subsequently released four of them.

The Kyrgyz government appealed to Moscow for military and technical support against the rebels, and the first equipment from Russia has already been received. The number of refugees in Osh region has reached 6,000; there are about 1,000 rebels and about 600 government troops in the region.

Mamarasul Toroev, head of the administration of Chong-Alai district, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Batken on 3 September that there were clashes between government troops and the rebels in the district in the night of 2 September, but no casualties are reported. Toroev said there are about 100 rebels in the district now. Toroev said some 1,200 inhabitants of Kara-Teyit village, bombed by Uzbek warplanes on 29 August, have been moved to the town on Daroot-Korgon, center of the district. Three civilians, including a child, were killed and 17 more injured during the bombardment, one of whom later died. Also, according to Toroev, 31 houses in the village were destroyed completely and 118 houses were damaged.

According to local authorities, the two Japanese journalists and their interpreter taken hostage on 2 September could not reach the villages and are on their way back to Batken now. Also, Chairman of the Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan Tursunbek Akunov together with his three aides are now in the captured villages trying to secure the release of the hostages.

RFE/RL correspondent Jarkyn Temirbaeva met in Batken on 3 September with Jainak Satarov, resident of the small village of Raud near Zardaly, taken hostage on 22 August. He said he had escaped captivity several times recently. First, he delivered his family (a wife and three children) from Raud to the village of Chek last week. Then, he returned to Raud again, trying to take his cattle but failed and escaped captivity again in the morning of 1 September. He said he met guerrillas at the Kum-Bel pas about noon the same day and they did not harm him. According to Satarov, the rebels are equipped very well, and he has not met any government troops on his way from Raud to Batken. He confirmed that about 160 residents of Zardaly had also escaped captivity and are on their way to Batken now.

Local authorities told an RFE/RL correspondent in Batken on 3 September that international representatives accompanied by Cholponkul Arabaev, director of the regional center on refugees in Bishkek, and two colonels of the Security Ministry (Jumanov and Ismailov) arrived in Batken district on 3 September bringing some humanitarian aid.

Fred Eckhard, spokesman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, has announced that representatives of the UNICEF, UNDP and UNHCR as well as World Health Organization will arrive in Osh region of Kyrgyzstan on 3 September to evaluate the refugee situation.

Jainak Satarov, an escaped hostage, told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 3 September that his family has received about 20 kgs of flour and 14 kgs of macaroni as humanitarian aid recently. It is enough for a few days only and he has lost all his cattle and goods as well as a house. He lives at his friends now, separated from the family. According to Satarov, no government troops guard the refugees.

President Askar Akayev held an urgent government meeting in Bishkek on 2 September. Defense Minister General Esen Topoev, Interior Minister General Omurbek Kutuev, Emergencies Minister Sultan Urmanaev and Deputy Minister of National Security Ulugbek ChinAliyev reported to the president. The meeting was held behind closed doors. According to the presidential press service, Akayev called for the safe release of the hostages and urgent measures to support the refugees.

The parliamentary Legislative Assembly has discussed the situation in the southern regions behind closed doors since 1 September. According to the parliamentary press service, Defense Minister Topoev reported to the session on 3 September. He asked for an increase in the military budget of the country.

An interview with Kyrgyz Defense Minister Esen Topoev was published in Moscow based "Krasnaya Zvezda" paper on 2 September. The minister says the Kyrgyz government would not speed up the events in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Another Russian paper, "Kommersant-Daily," wrote on 2 September that combat against rebels in Kyrgyzstan would be implemented by Uzbek government forces using Russian weapons. According to the paper, Russia will give arms assistance to Uzbekistan, not to Kyrgyzstan.

The presidential press service announced in Bishek on 2 September that President Askar Akayev will go to Germany on an official visit on10 September. He will meet President Johannes Rau, Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder, and other officials and discuss bilateral relations.

It had been expected that Akayev would visit Denmark too, but, according to the presidential press service, that visit is postponed intil November.

President Askar Akayev received a US delegation led by Richard Quick, leader of the American-Asian Foundation in Bishkek on 2 September. According to the presidential press service, the strengthening of economic relations between Kyrgyzstan and the US was discussed.

The delegation was received on 3 September by Prime Minister Amageldi MurAliyev too. It was announced at the meeting that the amount of Kyrgyz foreign debt to be repaid in the year 2000 is equal to 40 percent of annual state budget. The main part of the debt is for the repayment of loans taken from Russia (about $130 million). The Pakistan and Kyrgyz government are now holding negotiations on restructuring the debts.

According to the presidential press service, President Askar Akayev visited boarding School No. 1 in Bishkek on 1 September and congratulated the schoolchildren on the new school year. Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev also visited a school for handicapped children in the Issyk-Ata district of Chu region on the same day.

A session of the parliamentary Legislative Assembly began in Bishkek on 1 September. It was held behind closed doors. The situation in the southern regions was discussed. According to the parliamentary press service, Minister of Emergencies Sultan Urmanaev, Minister of Health Care Naken Kasiev, Deputy Minister of National Security Ulugbek Chinaliev, and Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Kalmurat Sadiev reported at the session.