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19 May, 2010 12:23

Ethnic violence erupts in Kyrgyzstan

Ethnic clashes have broken out in southern Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday. At least two people have been killed and 70 injured.

Growing tension between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz was behind the strife in the southern city of Jalal-Abad.

Hundreds of Kyrgyz reportedly tried to storm and set fire to a local university important to the Uzbek minority. The protestors demanded the handover of an Uzbek community leader, whom they accused of stirring racial tension.

Police fired warning shots at the crowd, who were throwing stones.

This flare-up of violence comes amid tightened security in the country since President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted last month.

Erica Marat from the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute believes that Roza Otunbaeva, who heads the interim government, should not be blamed for mismanaging the government and failing to control the situation.

Roza Otunbaeva is a very professional politician and she knows how to lead the country. She knows what international powers to attract in order to stabilize the country,” Marat said. “However, she is surrounded by politicians who are not necessarily interested in stability inside the country, but are interested in pursuing their own political interest….In fact, a lot of civil rights activists in Kyrgyzstan would blame those leaders inside the provisional government for instigating chaos.”