After reports of up to 500 dead and many more injured, Uzbekistan remains in a volatile state. Overnight, gunshots were heard in Andizhan where government troops are keeping a tight hold on the town. Armoured personnel carriers are blocking the main routes and soldiers are said to be mounting roadblocks throughout the area.
The death toll differs according to which side is counting but the government estimate of 70 dead is not widely believed. After a muted response to the unrest, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher has given Washington’s reaction.
“We are deeply disturbed by the reports that the Uzbek authorities fired on demonstrators last Friday. We certainly condemn the indiscriminate use of force against unarmed civilians and deeply regret any loss of life,” he said. “We had urged and continue to urge the Uzbek government to exercise restraint, stressing that violence cannot lead to long-term stability.”
Meanwhile, on the border with Kyrgyzstan, in the town of Kara-suu 13 refugees have been killed as they tried to cross the frontier. Aid agencies are demanding to be let into the country as concern rises over the number of people trying to escape the conflict.