More than 100 people have been killed, hundreds more injured and thousands have fled their homes in southern Kyrgyzstan as fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks entered the fourth day, say officials.
Ismail Isakov, deputy head of the interim government and acting Minister of Defence, said that “currently the situation in southern Kyrgyzstan is very difficult. It is developing into a scenario of ‘tit for tat, blood for blood’.”
The government news agency Kabar reported on 14 June that 118 people had been killed, while Akipress news agency said 1,485 people had been injured and 779 were hospitalized.
However, residents of Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city, where the clashes erupted on 10 June, say the real number of dead is much higher.
“A lot of people have been killed, relatives are burying the dead after their bodies were brought home and the authorities are only registering those bodies that were taken to hospitals,” a local resident, who did not want to be identified, told IRIN from Osh.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Kyrgyz authorities have opened a border crossing to allow civilians to pass into Uzbekistan and 75,000* ethnic Uzbeks, mainly women, children and elderly, have crossed the border. In Uzbekistan, a tent camp has been erected while refugees are occupying schools and other public buildings. Many more citizens have been made homeless or displaced by the fighting and thousands are reportedly stuck at the border.
The government has announced a state of emergency in Osh and several outlying districts, and in neighbouring Jalal-Abad province a curfew from 6pm to 6am has been declared, although witnesses say it is being ignored by armed groups fighting, looting property and setting buildings and houses ablaze.
Kyrgyz law enforcement officials say that while there is less fighting in Osh, violence has escalated in the other major southern city of Jalal-Abad, the provincial capital, over the past two days. According to media reports, at least seven people were killed there. Violence has also been reported in several towns and rural areas of Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken Provinces, OCHA said.
Meanwhile, the Russian RIA Novosti news agency, citing the Uzbek emergencies ministry, reported that more than 75,000 ethnic Uzbeks from southern Kyrgyzstan crossed the Uzbek border. The majority are women, children and elderly and there are wounded among them, the report said.
* Correction made on 14 June: from 6,000 to 75,000.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions