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Kyrgyz Police Search For Suspects Who Destroyed 'Holiday Tree'


A holiday tree in the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek

Police in southern Kyrgyzstan are searching for suspects who destroyed a decorated holiday tree ahead of New Year's celebrations.

Unknown suspects also broke the windows of the cultural center in the town of Kadamzhai where the fir tree, a traditional symbol of New Year's festivities, was installed.

A resident said the attackers "broke the tree and smashed six windows of the cultural center building, using the tree’s stand. Then they threw the tree in the river."

The incident took place on December 27.

In a tradition from Kyrgyzstan's Soviet past, many Kyrgyz celebrate the New Year by installing decorated fir trees -- much like Christmas trees -- in city squares, shopping centers, public buildings, and their homes as well as throw office parties and family gatherings.

But some local officials and residents in the predominantly Muslim state don't approve of the celebrations or the trees.

Uzgen District Governor Attokur Tazhibaev said that in the past three years his district has stopped erecting decorated fir trees in public places and holding New Year's parties.

"This tradition was imposed on us," he said.

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