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Kazakhs, Kyrgyz Flee China Unrest

ASTANA/BISHKEK -- Officials in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan say their citizens are returning in significant numbers from neighboring China's tense Xinjiang region, where ethnic rioting has been blamed for hundreds of deaths and injuries, RFE/RL's Kazakh and Kyrgyz services report.

A spokesman for the Kazakh Foreign Ministry announced that more than 1,000 Kazakh citizens had left Xinjiang in the past two days, although he said many others had chosen to remain.

The spokesman, Erzhan Ashikbayev, said there were no Kazakh nationals among the casualties of the clashes, in which armed mobs of Uyghur Muslims and Han Chinese have traded seemingly random attacks.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry informed journalists that the first group of Kyrgyz nationals arrived by airplane from Urumchi on July 8.

Several busloads of Kyrgyz were expected to arrive in Bishkek from China within 24 hours, the ministry said.