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Why large-scale riots in Kyrgyzstan?

2010-04-08 16:22 BJT

BISHKEK, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Large-scale riots broke out Wednesday in a number of cities and regions in Kyrgyzstan, including the capital of Bishkek.

Tens of thousands of opposition supporters in the small central Asian nation took to the streets, storming government buildings, besieging and eventually taking over the Presidential Palace, occupying the Parliament Building, and violently clashing with military and police forces.

Officials said more than 60 people were killed and about 400 others were injured during the riots.

Members of the Kyrgyz opposition said the immediate cause that triggered the large-scale unrest was the government's arrest of Bolotbek Sherniazov, a vice chairman of the opposition Ata-jurt (Fatherland) movement. On Tuesday afternoon, about 1,500 demonstrators besieged and then took over the state government building in Talas, taking the governor hostage and demanded the release of Sherniazov.

The government immediately dispatched a large number of police officers, who drove the crowds out of government buildings and freed the governor.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Daniyar Usenov said Wednesday that 85 police officers were injured during the Talas incident, and 15 others were still missing.

The opposition had planned to hold a "People's Assembly" around the country on Wednesday, but the initiative was not approved by the government.

Kyrgyz authorities warned that if the opposition insisted on holding the so-called "People's Assembly," which was contrary to the Constitution and beyond the law's boundaries, security agencies will take resolute measures against them.

On Wednesday morning, opposition supporters launched large-scale protests near government buildings in many states and cities.

In Bishkek, thousands of demonstrators broke through security lines set up by the police in the suburbs, and gathered around the Presidential Palace.

They asked President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and Prime Minister Usenov to come out and talk to them face-to-face.

After the request was rejected, opposition supporters stormed the building, and clashed with police.

Meanwhile, opposition supporters in Talas, Narynskaya, Chu and other states also attacked and occupied local government buildings.

In Naryn, the state capital of Narynskaya, opposition supporters ousted the governor, throwing documents and flags out of the window of the governor's office. Azimbek Beknazarov, the country's former attorney-general and now one of the opposition leaders, declared in Naryn that the ultimate goal of the opposition is to take over the government.

On Wednesday afternoon, TV signals from the first and fifth channels of the state television were interrupted, and their programs were then completely shut down.

It was later confirmed that the headquarters of the national television had been took over by opposition supporters.

In addition, a staff member at Bishkek Manas International Airport told Xinhua that the airport will be temporarily shut down between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, and all flights were suspended.

Due to the tense situation, neighboring Kazakhstan and Tajikistan have strengthened security along their borders with Kyrgyzstan.