Security forces in Kyrgyzstan moved to restore order in the volatile south of the country on Friday after deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of the new interim government.
Supporters of Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the deposed president of Kyrgyzstan, seized local government buildings and airports in three cities in south Kyrgyzstan on Thursday, raising fears that a civil war would erupt in the central Asian country.
The interim government deployed special forces in the southern cities of Osh, Jalalabad and Batken on Friday after local police failed to act to restore order.
“We have cleared the [local government] buildings without bloodshed, nobody was injured,” Roza Otunbayeva, the head of the interim government, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
The turmoil in south Kyrgyzstan, a flashpoint for ethnic and Islamist unrest, has raised alarm in Russia and the US which both maintain military bases in the country.
On Friday, the US embassy in Bishkek issued a statement calling for an end to the “politically motivated violence” in Osh and Jalalabad. “We continue to encourage all parties to refrain from violence and express hope that Kyrgyzstan can move forward on a productive and democratic path,” it said.
One person was killed and more than 60 injured when rival groups exchanged gunfire outside the local administration headquarters in Jalalabad, Mr Bakiyev’s home town, early on Friday.
In Osh, the capital of south Kyrgyzstan, a crowd loyal to the interim government hurled stones at the local government building forcing Mr Bakiyev’s supporters to flee.
Ms Otunbayeva accused Mr Bakiyev’s family of financing and orchestrating the plan to take over local governments in the south. “Bakiyev’s sons and brothers handed out quite large sums,” she said. “The plan was clear-cut and well developed.”
Russia urged the interim government to quell the unrest and pledged not to interfere in Kyrgyzstan’s internal affairs. Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Russian security council, said, “We should not interfere. I think [the interim government] should have enough strength to restore order.”
Vladimir Rushailo, a former secretary of Russia’s security council, appointed as the Kremlin’s special envoy to Kyrgyzstan this week, flew to Bishkek on Friday for emergency talks with the interim government.
A witness in Jalalabad said a fragile calm settled on the city at nightfall. Unidentified arsonists set fire to five houses owned by Mr Bakiyev at Teyyit, an up market village outside Jalalabad.
Officials have warned that unrest in the south could ignite ethnic tensions unleashing an unstoppable wave of violence.
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