OSH -- The mayor of the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh says the new academic year in local schools and universities should be postponed for security reasons, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
Melis Myrzakmatov told a session of the city administration today that the new academic year, which usually starts on September 1, should be postponed until security measures in local schools and universities are upgraded.
Myrzakmatov said at least 500 additional police are needed, and that he plans to ask President Roza Otunbaeva, the government, and the Interior Ministry to provide them. Myrzakmatov did not suggest a new date for the start of the academic year.
Osh, along with neighboring Jalal-Abad Oblast, was wracked by violent clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in mid-June in which nearly 400 people were killed and hundreds wounded.
Earlier this month, Education Minister Kanat Sadykov said the new academic year in Osh would start as usual on September 1.
Myrzakmatov said today that the lack of police could lead to hostage takings comparable to that in Beslan in the North Caucasus on September 1, 2004, when armed insurgents seized more than 1,100 people at a local school. Over 300 of the hostages, mostly children, were killed when police and security forces stormed the school building.