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Kyrgyz Report: September 28, 1999

28 September 1999

Security Council Secretary General Bolot Januzakov announced in Bishkek on 28 September that a one-hour clash took place in Kadamjai district the previous night. A 30-strong rebel band attacked a government post at a point about 10 kilometers from the town of Khaidarken, but was beaten back and retreated into the Guamysh gorge. According to Januzakov, there were no casualties. Januzakov also said that a separate group of rebels were seen near the villages of Gaz, Sai, and Syrt in the neighboring Batken district that night, but no clashes occurred.

Januzakov said the joint troops of the defense and security ministries have began to cleanse the southern regions of the country of the rebels. But Januzakov stressed that this is not the beginning of a military operation against the rebels. Januzakov said Uzbek warplanes are ready to bomb rebel bases at the request of the Kyrgyz government, and a large contingent of Uzbek troops has been concentrated along the Kyrgyz-Uzbek state border, ready to help Kyrgyz troops.

General Januzakov announced in Bishkek on 28 September that the Kyrgyz government has begun to strengthen the state frontier with Tajikistan. According to Januzakov, the rebels in southern Kyrgyzstan have received new supplies of ammunition and arms from their bases on Tajik territory recently. Januzakov said the Tajik government had failed to close the border from the Tajik side.

Januzakov also said that according to escaped hostages, there are about 800 rebels in the Kojo-Ashkan gorge in southern Kyrgyzstan and only a limited number of them are left in the occupied villages of Kojo-Ashkan, Zardaly, Korgon and Shudman. According to Januzakov, the Kyrgyz general, four Japanese geologists and their interpreter are held at the site of Shiber near Kojo-Ashkan village. Other hostages might have been moved to the rebel bases on Tajik territory.

Colonel Vladimir Mikhailov of Defense Ministry announced in Bishkek on 28 September that the callup for military service has been completed. He did not say how many conscripts have been inducted. Mikhailov is a newly appointed officer responsible for reservists.

According to the government press service, Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev will visit Japan early in October. He will take part in a meeting of the Kyrgyz-Japanese inter-governmental commission on economical cooperation.

The governmental press service announced in Bishkek on 28 September that a Kyrgyz delegation led by Vice Prime Minister Esengul OmurAliyev left Bishkek for Tashkent that morning. During the two-day visit they will discuss with Uzbek authorities trade cooperation between the two states and natural gas supplies from Uzbekistan. The heads of the Kyrgyzgas and Kyrgyzenergo state companies are among the delegation.

Kyrgyzstan has not received any gas from Uzbekistan since last Ferbruary due to the several-million-dollar debt for previous deliveries. The annual trade turnover between the two states is about $55 million.

According to the government press service, Interior Minister General Omurbek Kutuev will take part in a meeting of the CIS ministers to be held in Kyiv, Ukraine, on 30 September-1 October. Joint actions against organized crime will be the main topic of discussion.

Security Council Secretary General Bolot Januzakov said in Bishkek on 27 September that the situation in the three districts of the Osh region (Batken, Kadamjai and Chong-Alai districts) where the clashes with the rebels occurred last month was relatively calm for the previous 24 hours. According to Januzakov, he has information that the rebels have left only a few people in the villages of Zardaly, Kojo-Ashkan and Korgon and main part of them have moved to the bases in mountains.

National Guards Sommander General Abdygul Chotbaev said on 27 September that some Uzbek troops have been concentrated along the state border with Kyrgyzstan, in the Uzbek Sokh and Shakhimardan districts. Chotbaev denied that Uzbek troops have already entered Kyrgyzstan and that Uzbek warplanes have bombed rebel bases in Kyrgyzstan again. According to Chotbaev, the Uzbek government has provided Kyrgyzstan with military equipment and ammunition.

Five residents of Zardaly village who arrived in the town of Batken on 27 September said that the rebels have robbed the villagers and forced them to construct bomb shelters in the occupied villages. According to local authorities, a lot of syringes and ampoules have been found near the villages of Sai, Syrt and Gaz where the clashes between government troops and rebels occurred earlier last week.

Human Rights Movement of Kyrgyzstan chairman Tursunbek Akunov left Bishkek for "one of the Islamic states" last week. He will try to meet with senior commanders of the rebels who took hostages in Kyrgyzstan more than a month ago. Akunov told RFE/RL before his departure that two aides will accompany him on his trip.

It is the third round of unofficial negotiations with the rebels. First, Akunov travelled to the rebels' base in Batken district late in August and spent more than two weeks there. He brought back two letters to Bishkek, one from Kyrgyz General Anarbek Shamkeev and four Japanese geologists that they are alive, and a letter from rebel commander Yunus Abdrakmanov who offered the Kyrgyz government to hold negotiations. On 13-14 September, Akunov returned to the rebel base and held asecond round of negotiations with Abdrakmanov. However, he was not allowed to meet the hostages personally.

Parliamentary Legislative Assembly speaker Usup Mukambaev announced in Bishkek on 27 September that parliament deputy Tursunbai Bakir Uulu left Saudi Arabia for Afghanistan earlier that day. Bakir Uulu met in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates with people who could help to resolve the hostage crisis. In the United Arab Emirates, he reached agreement with the Human Apple International organization on humanitarian aid for the hostages.

However, the chairman of the parliamentary committee on inter-parliamentary relations Marat Bakiev told an RFE/RL correspondent in Bishkek on 27 September that Tursunbai Bakir Uulu's mission is a private one and the Kyrgyz parliament has not authorized him to hold talks with anybody on the crisis in Kyrgyzstan. Bakir Uulu is chairman of the presidential commission on human rights. He left Kyrgyzstan on 21 September.

Bishkek City Police Head General Abdylda Suranchiev announced in Bishkek on 27 September that 72 people have been arrested in the city recently under suspicion of helping religious extremists.

According to the Foreign Ministry, President Askar Akayev has recently signed a special decree appointing venerated Kyrgyz writer Tchingiz Aitmatov Kyrgyz ambassador to France. Aitmatov is also the Kyrgyz ambassador to the EU, NATO, UNESCO, Belgium, Luxemburg and the Netherlands, and lives in Brussels. He received all possible prizes and titles for a writer in the USSR, and served in the early 1990s as advisor to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

According to the government press service, Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev convened a meeting on unemployment in Bishkek on 27 September. Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Imankadyr RysAliyev told the meeting that there are currently 56,000 people registered, but he estimated the real figure at about 95,000.

According to the Defense Ministry, the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan was relatively calm over the weekend. The rebels continue to hold most of the 13 hostages near the village of Kojo-Askan in the south of Batken district. Kyrgyz government troops are preparing for military action against the rebels together with Uzbek and Tajik specialists.

According to the head of the Chong-Alai district administration, Mamarasul Toroev, reconstruction of homes in the village of Kara-Teyit should be completed by mid-October. Uzbek warplanes bombed the village in error on 29 August, in an attempt to target the rebels. Four civilians including a 5-year-old girl and a Kyrgyz policemen were killed, and more than 20 houses were destroyed completely.

More than 20 Kyrgyz citizens have been killed since the current rebel crisis began in southern Kyrgyzstan on 22 August. Several thousand people have been driven from their homes.

Government spokesman Farid Niyazov announced in Bishkek on 25 September that nine agreements and one protocol were signed at the meeting of prime ministers of member states of the CIS Customs Union in Astana on 24 September. Most of them are on strengthening economic cooperation between the member-states and on forming a free economic zone. But according Niyazov, planned agreements on railroad tariffs and on cooperation in space industry were not signed.

On the sidelines of the summit, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Amangeldi MurAliyev had separate meetings in Astana with Russian Premier Vladimir Putin and Kazakh Premier Nurlan Balghymbaev. MurAliyev discussed with Putin the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan and the restructuring of Kyrgyzstan's approximately $150 million debt to Russia. Putin said Russia fully backs the efforts of the Kyrgyz government to stabilize the situation in its southern regions. With Balghymbaev, repayment of the Kazakh debt of about $25 million to Kyrgyzstan was discussed.

President Askar Akayev opened the fifth congress of Turkic pediatricians in Bishkek on 25 September. About 300 delegates from 13 countries, including Austria, the Netherlands, Russia, Turkey, the US are taking part.