Twelve injured as hundreds attempt to storm Kyrgyz parliament (PHOTOS)
3 Oct, 2012 09:19
Riot police in Bishkek have used stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets to break up a demonstration after several hundred protesters attempted to storm the parliament building. Three people of the twelve have been shot, Health Ministry reports.
The protesters demand the nationalization of the Kumtor goldmine, the largest in Kyrgyzstan and one of the largest in the world. The mine is operated by a Canadian company.Between 500 and 2,000 people took part in the protest, according to conflicting reports. The country's Health Ministry says nine people were injured in the clashes, including two police officers. Several participants have been detained and are already being interrogated, according to police sources.Bishkek's mayor has called the protest "an attempt to destabilize the situation." The Interior Ministry says the protesters could be charged with a violent attempt to seize power.Earlier this year the Kyrgyz parliament found that Centerra Gold grossly violates the rules of operating the mine, which accounts for 10 per cent of the country's GDP, a quarter of its industrial output and one third of its exports. The Canadian company has denied all accusations.The mine has been plagued by environmental and legal problems ever since it started operating in 1997. This has lately resulted in a slowdown in mining, which in turn led to protest sentiments among local residents demanding jobs. The Kyrgyz parliament has so far been unable to take definite steps.The protesters, who reportedly returned to Bishkek's central square following dispersal, demand that parliament decide on the future of the mine or be dissolved.