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By Alisher Karimov and Talib Kurbanov
OSH -- As Kyrgyzstan began three days of mourning June 16 for those killed in ethnic clashes in the south, the interim government appealed for calm and again blamed the fighting on supporters of former president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
“We ... ask the entire nation and every family that suffered losses and injuries to forgive us for not being able to protect you from this tragedy”, the interim government said in a statement.
The interim government promised to assist bereaved families, restore peace in the region and punish those responsible for organising the clashes.
Law enforcement agencies will work on heightened alert through June 27’s referendum. The interim government said in a statement it is ready to resign at any time, but that “under the circumstances, no one is able to quickly gain sufficient trust of the people and put the country in order”.
Stabilisation is possible only through resolution of certain political issues — specifically, the referendum and parliamentary elections. The interim government plans to hold elections within the legal time frame after the referendum.
The Interior Ministry is investigating 111 suspects for attempting to incite unrest, said Bishkek Internal Affairs Directorate chief Zarylbek Rysaliyev. Bishkek is calm, he said.
In Osh, though, gunfire was heard several times during the day.
“We still do not dare leave our apartment. Only my husband has left in search of food”, said Osh resident Gulbara Ramazanova in a telephone interview. “Many people are starving. There is not enough bread”.
Oleg Kasimov, who works at a Bishkek humanitarian aid collection point, said June 16 alone it sent 158 tonnes of food and medicine to Osh and Dzhalal-Abad. Kazakhstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey and the UN are all sending humanitarian aid. The Health Ministry plans to send another 15 ambulances from Bishkek June 17.
The Ministry reports 187 people were killed and more than 1,900 were wounded in six days of rioting, warning that the numbers could increase.
The State National Security Services said in a press release that they detained two cars with explosive devices in Osh Oblast. Five Shark residents are suspected.
Osh law enforcement authorities reported ten shootings and six instances of looting. Five people suspected of inciting violence were detained.
Ethnic Uzbeks unable to leave the country remain in Osh. Uzbek community representative Ulugbek reported that a number of Uzbeks have surrounded a gasoline storage depot and have threatened to blow it up if police approach.
“The Uzbeks are afraid of the Kyrgyz. The trust is gone. We saw for ourselves how the police killed our innocent people, so we are afraid”, Ulugbek said.
In Dzhalal-Abad, the situation remains tense, with the biggest problem being the lack of food.
“In the morning, we walk the streets in search (of food), and where we find it, they are selling it for three times the price. There are people who profit from others’ grief,” said Dzhalal-Abad resident Mamleket Asanova.
Refugees in Dzhalal-Abad Oblast are unable to enter Uzbekistan. The influx of refugees is so large in some places that a number of border control points have closed. Instead, refugees have settled in nearby border villages. Local residents are assisting them and opening their homes to them. One family of five is reportedly lodging more than 100 people in its home.
“We are grateful to these blessed people”, said Dzhalal-Abad resident Zumrat Khalilov. “They have given us shelter. We are afraid to return to the city even though the shooting is said to have subsided”.
Bektur Asanov, Dzhalal-Abad Oblast’s acting governor, arrived in one village inhabited by refugees. He tried to persuade the refugees to return. But some could not be convinced.
“No one can guarantee the police will not start shooting at us. People in police uniforms burnt our homes down”, one of the elders told the governor.
Paramedic Sadykzhan Kochkorov said he delivered two babies while a third woman suffered a miscarriage in Bekabad. He said there is an acute shortage of medicine while he has only painkillers. Kochkorov also has been treating gunshot victims.
Refugee settlements are not receiving Kyrgyzstani humanitarian aid because authorities have been unable to co-ordinate actions to assist the victims.
Ulugbek Babakulov, editor-in-chief of Moskovskii komsomolets v Kyrgyzstane, said he and his colleagues have informed the Health Ministry of those areas most in need of medicine.
The Uzbek government is allowing refugees to cross the border at the Andijan, Fergana and Namangan border posts and will soon open the Tashkent Oblast Border Control Point, one Uzbek border guard said.
According to UNICEF, 100,000 refugees are already in Uzbekistan, while another 250,000 refugees remain in Kyrgyzstan. In order to help refugees, Tashkent has set up collection points for aid donations under the control of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Association for Family Support and the UNDP.
Farida, who fled Kara-Suu with her two children, is now in a refugee camp in Uzbekistan. She said refugees are provided hot meals and clothing and the wounded and sick are receiving medical care.
Permanent UN Coordinator in Uzbekistan Anita Nirodi said she visited all of the refugee camps. “The conditions meet the necessary requirements everywhere, and people are receiving all necessities in a full and timely manner.”
Uzbek journalist Artykov Bakhodyr, who worked at a Dzhalal-Abad television station, said, “I do not understand why Russia and others are helping the Kyrgyz. They are not the ones who suffered; we are. They killed people before my very eyes.”
Mamadaliyeva Munira, an Uzbek community leader from one of the regions in Dzhalal-Abad Oblast, said that Kyrgyz television is encouraging Uzbeks to return.
“They say everything is in order. My husband called and said charges have been brought against me and seven other people, as if we were instigators. This is not true! What security are they talking about?”
In Tashkent, Uzbek First Deputy Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Komilov said, “The riots in the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan were organised by a third-party forces. The large number of weapons that entered Kyrgyzstan from abroad made this clear. Furthermore, the mercenaries from other countries — including professional snipers — showed up in Osh.”
The Collective Security Threat Organisation (CSTO) in Moscow said that it will assist Kyrgyzstan’s law enforcement and security structures. CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha said that “a full normalisation of (Kyrgyzstan’s) situation is still far off”, so we will provide assistance to Kyrgyz law enforcement.