Interim Leader: Kyrgyzstan Death Toll Could Top 2,000

Refugees Trickle Home Amid Lingering Fear

Kyrgyzstan’s Interim President Roza Otunbayeva visited the riot-torn city of Osh today, and said she believes that the official death toll, currently at 191, would be upwards of 2,000 when all is said and done.

According to Otunbayeva, the official data does not take into account anyone who was buried on the day of their death, a common practice in the Sunni Muslim nation.

Nearly a week of violence against the Uzbek minority in the nation’s southwest seems to have subsided, at least for the time being, and refugees are beginning to trickle home across the border from neighboring Uzbekistan.

Not everyone is coming back, however, as a large number of the Uzbeks would rather stay in the desperate tent camps in Uzbekistan for the time being than risk returning home to a resumption of violence.

The interim government, which took power after the Bakiyev government violently tried to crush protests in the capital in April, has attempted to blame all of the violence in the south on Bakiyev, who is currently in exile in Belarus. Reports from rights groups however tell a different story, saying that the government’s soldiers not only took part in the killings of the Uzbeks, but distributed weapons to the ethnic Kyrgyz gangs responsible for most of the killings.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.