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Terrorism & Security

Kyrgyzstan crisis spreads as 100,000 Uzbeks try to flee

The son of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was arrested in England on Tuesday for alleged links to the Kyrgyzstan violence. Nearly 200 have died and 100,000 ethnic Uzbeks have fled to the border with Uzbekistan.

By Correspondent / June 15, 2010

Uzbek refugees lined up around an armored vehicle with Kyrgyz soldiers in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh while waiting to cross the border into Uzbekistan on Monday.

Faruk Akkan/CHA/AP

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As China and Turkey send in planes to retrieve their nationals from Kyrgyzstan, ethnic Uzbeks are being told they can't flee despite deadly violence that has so far killed 171 and wounded nearly 1,800, according to the government, though the real numbers are likely much higher.

Meanwhile, suspicions continue to grow that the ousted president has links to the violence, with his son being arrested in England on Tuesday on charges that he is instigating the unrest that has largely targeted ethnic Uzbeks in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reports that a third Chinese plane arrived late Tuesday to the southeastern city Osh. That same morning, two Chinese chartered planes carrying 195 Chinese nationals who were evacuated from Kyrgyzstan.

Turkish news agency Hurriyet reports that a Turkish Airlines plane carrying 151 Turks – mostly women and children from Kyrgyzstan’s southern city of Osh – landed in Istanbul on Tuesday. The Turkish government reportedly plans to send another plane to retrieve its nationals.

But ethnic Uzbeks, who have been targeted in the wave of violence, appear unable to escape. Four days of ethnic fighting in southern Kyrgyzstan spread from Osh to villages where Kyrgyz mobs were reportedly killing members of the Uzbek minority and burning their houses, sending as many as 100,000 ethnic Uzbeks to the border of Uzbekistan, seeking entry. Voice of America reports that Uzbekistan closed its borders because it cannot accommodate more refugees, and will not admit more refugees until it receives humanitarian assistance.

Some, however, managed to slip into Uzbekistan before the western neighbor sealed its border. According to The New York Times, as much as 10 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s Uzbek population may have fled to Uzbekistan. The United Nations relief agency said it was preparing to send aid to Uzbekistan to help it care for the refugees.

Some media report that the clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks were abating Tuesday, though others report that fighting was ongoing.

Aid continued to arrive in strife-torn Kyrgyzstan on Tuesday as the humanitarian crisis continued to build.

The interim government continued sending cargo planes of food and emergency supplies to Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city, reports The New York Times. Much of the city has been burned in the riots and residents were running out of food, water, and medical supplies. The Times reports that residents ventured out of their homes for the first time since the violence began, with some boarding buses to be evacuated. The paper, citing a Red Cross official, reports that the death toll in Osh alone could be as high as 700, with at least 3,000 wounded. Some are too afraid to seek medical help.

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