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Kyrgyz President Marks 10th Anniversary Of Ethnic Clashes In South

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Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov lays flowers at the Mothers' Tears memorial in Osh on June 10.

OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov has visited the southern city of Osh to mark the 10th anniversary of the deadly ethnic clashes that claimed hundreds of lives.

Jeenbekov laid flowers on June 10 at the Mothers' Tears monument commemorating the victims of the violence between Kyrgyz and local Uzbeks.

He took part in a collective prayer near the monument and talked to relatives of the victims.

Jeenbekov also issued a statement addressed to the Central Asian nation in which he once more expressed condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives during the clashes in Osh and another southern Kyrgyz city, Jalal-Abad.

"Today we commemorate those whose lives were taken by the tragedy.... The past will always be a lesson for us as we continue to strengthen the unity of our nation and develop our country," Jeenbekov said.

The wide-scale clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks came two months after the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiev and raised fears of a descent into violent chaos in Kyrgyzstan, a poor country of 6.5 million that was providing an important link in the U.S.-NATO supply line to nearby Afghanistan at the time.

At least 470 people, mainly ethnic Uzbeks, were killed in the clashes and thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed.

Kyrgyzstan's Deadly Ethnic Clashes, 10 Years Later
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The violence followed the ouster of President Kurmanbek Bakiev in an uprising in April 2010.

An international commission set up to investigate the clashes found no evidence linking the Bakiev family to the violence. Instead it suggested that the government had failed to recognize the scale of rising Kyrgyz nationalism.

The chairman of the commission, Finnish politician Kimmo Kiljunen, was declared persona non grata by the Kyrgyz parliament after the commission's findings were released in 2011.

Ethnic Uzbeks, most of whom live in the south, make up some 14 percent of the population of Kyrgyzstan, which also has a sizable ethnic Russian minority.

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