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Kyrgyz Rights Group Criticizes Counterterrorist Operation In Osh

Ravshan Gapirov
Ravshan Gapirov
OSH, Kyrgyzstan -- The Kyrgyz human rights organization Justice-Truth has criticized law enforcement agencies for scaring local residents during a counterterrorist operation in the southern district of Osh on October 8, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Ravshan Gapirov of Justice-Truth told RFE/RL today that local residents' rights are violated too often during counterterrorism operations. He said such operations are conducted in such a way that people are frequently "afraid they may be detained, beaten, tortured, or even that police could extort money from them."

Police on October 8 said they killed a suspected religious extremist who hijacked a minibus on the outskirts of Osh with 15 passengers on board.

An Osh resident who only divulged his first name -- Mohammed -- told RFE/RL he was visiting his relatives in the village of Nariman near Osh that day. He said villagers, the overwhelming majority of whom are of Uzbek origin, "started panicking" when law enforcement and security troops began checking people's identification documents.

"We all took refuge in the houses after we heard gunfire, and after that police and security officers started visiting every house to check documents. Our women and children were really frightened," Mohammed told RFE/RL.

Clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz in southern Kyrgyzstan last year left more than 400 people dead and hundreds of thousands temporarily displaced.

Nariman was the site of the brutal murder of a Kyrgyz district police chief during the violence and a retaliatory raid by security forces that left two people dead.

Interior Ministry press secretary Jenis Ashyrbaev declined to give the hostage-taker's name on the grounds that the investigation is still under way.

Read more in Kyrgyz here