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Ethnic Tatars, Bashkirs Want To Leave Osh

A burned-out house following ethnic clashes in Osh
A burned-out house following ethnic clashes in Osh
OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Ethnic Tatars and Bashkirs living in the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan are desperate to leave the city, where clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz have left around 190 dead and about 2,000 wounded, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

One of the leaders of the Tatar community in Osh, Ravila Akhmerova, told RFE/RL by phone that ethnic Tatars and Bashkirs are trying to leave Osh.

She said at least 80 of the city's 4,300 ethnic Tatars and Bashkirs were airlifted to Russia this week. She also said it is very dangerous to
venture out into the street because of continued gunfire. Akhmerova said that although neither side appears deliberately to be targeting Tatars or Bashkirs, snipers are shooting indiscriminately from a distance.

Akhmerova added that some Tatars living in predominantly ethnic Uzbek-populated districts of Osh had to leave the city for Uzbekistan together with the ethnic Uzbeks. She told RFE/RL that she personally wants to find a way with the help of the World Tatar Congress to leave her native city for any destination.

Tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbek residents of the southern Kyrgyz cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad have fled to neighboring Uzbekistan in the wake of the violent clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz over the past week. Students from China, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan have also been evacuated.