There have been increasingly violent clashes between protesters and riot police in Bishkek, the capital of the former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. At least 17 people have been killed – perhaps as many as 50 according to some reports. A state of emergency has been declared.
There are confused reports over the fate of the country’s interior minister. The AFP news agency said he had been killed after being taken hostage by anti-government demonstrators at Talas in the north west of the country; other reports quote the ministry denying that he was dead.
Protesters tried to attack President Bakiyev’s offices while others also stormed state TV and radio headquarters, taking broadcasts off air.
Some reports say police fired live rounds into the crowds after failing to disperse people with tear gas.
The protesters are demanding Bakiyev’s resignation, with widespread complaints about his style of leadership. Since coming to power five years ago he has been accused of tightening his grip on power, jailing political opponents and failing to stamp out corruption.