Kyrgyz soldiers 'helped' mobs attack Uzbeks

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Kyrgyz soldiers 'helped' mobs attack Uzbeks

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Kyrgyzstan government forces have been accused of helping civilian mobs attack Uzbeks during June’s ethnic bloodshed.

The organisation Human Rights Watch investigated the violence that followed the ousting from power of President Bakiyev.

At least 371 people died and hundreds of thousands fled their homes in the south.

The New York-based watchdog carried out more than 200 interviews, including with Kyrgyz and Uzbek victims. It says witnesses in several areas described how soldiers aided the pogroms carried out by ethnic Kyrgyz.

One of the report’s authors, Anna Niestat, told a news conference in Moscow that armoured personnel carriers went into Uzbek neighbourhoods and removed protective barricades.

“The APCs were followed by armed men in camouflage who shot at residents, and then allowed the mobs to loot and torch Uzbek homes,” she said.

The violence laid waste to large parts of cities such as Osh as the interim government based in Bishkek struggled to gain control.

Human Rights Watch says the situation in southern Kyrgystan remains tense, with clashes occurring on a daily basis ahead of October elections in the former Soviet Republic.