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Pakistani Students Flee Osh; Turkmen Await Assistance

Pakistani students rescued from Osh arrive in Pakistan on June 15.
Pakistani students rescued from Osh arrive in Pakistan on June 15.
A Pakistani air force plane has brought some 130 Pakistani nationals back to their home country from the embattled Kyrgyz city of Osh, while some 350 Turkmen university students are waiting for assistance in leaving the city.

The Pakistanis, mostly students, arrived at an air base south of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

An earlier plane with 134 young people arrived at the same air base late on June 14. The Pakistani government says that all the Pakistanis in Osh have now been evacuated.

At least one student from Pakistan was killed during the ethnic violence between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in Osh over the weekend. His body has also been flown home.

Fahim Khan, one of the evacuated students, arrived in his hometown of Mardan in northwest Pakistan today. He told Radio Mashaal that the Pakistani students in Osh lived with almost no food and water for days.

According to Khan, the violence that broke out in his part of Osh began with a clash between Kyrgyz and Uzbek youths.

"The fight started between two gangsters in a casino, a Kyrgyz and an Uzbek,” Khan said. “In Osh, Uzbeks fought with Kyrgyz and a lot of people died in that fight [who] were Kyrgyz."

Khan said the police and army did not have enough forces to restore order in Osh.

Meanwhile, the rector of the Osh Technical University, Abdibali Toktomamatov, told RFE/RL today that 350 Turkmen students from different universities are expecting the Turkmen ambassador to escort them from Osh to Turkmenistan via Uzbekistan.

Toktomamatov said he expects the Turkmen students and other international students to return to Osh, “because of course the current situation will revert to normal and we shall create [favorable] conditions for them.”

He continued: “We very much hope that they will return because they have started their course of study and they ought to finish it."

Many of the remaining Turkmen students were expecting to leave on June 15, but a plane that was to fly them home never arrived.

More than 300 other Turkmen students were flown out of Osh on three separate flights to Ashgabat and Turkmenabat on June 14-15, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported. The students had gathered at the Osh airport with other foreign students and were guarded by Kyrgyz soldiers.

One student told RFE/RL that some of the Turkmen students had been injured. The student said they are concerned about their safety and noted that on June 14, there was an explosion at a school near the Osh airport.

The Turkmen authorities have not commented on the flights carrying the students and state media has not reported on the evacuation.