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Old 04-07-2010, 02:05 PM
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Default Kyrgyz uprising seizes security HQ

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AP Exclusive: Kyrgyz uprising seizes security HQ

By PETER LEONARD, Associated Press Writer Peter Leonard, Associated Press Writer 12 mins ago

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan An opposition politician has seized the headquarters of a branch of Kyrgyzstan's security forces the first concrete sign that a violent uprising is now in charge of the Central Asian nation.

An Associated Press reporter saw opposition leader Keneshbek Duishebayev sitting in the office of the chief of Kyrgyzstan's succesor agency to the Soviet KGB, issuing orders on the phone to people Duishebayev said were security agents. He also saw Duishebayev giving orders to a uniformed special forces commando.

Duishebayev told the AP that "we have created units to restore order" on the streets. This mountainous former Soviet republic houses a U.S. military base that is a key supply center in the fight against the Taliban in nearby Afghanistan.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) Thousands of protesters furious over corruption and spiraling utility bills seized government buildings and clashed with police Wednesday in Kyrgyzstan, throwing control of the Central Asian nation into doubt. Police opened fire on demonstrators, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

The eruption of violence shattered the relative stability of this mountainous former Soviet republic, which houses a U.S. military base that is a key supply center in the fight against the Taliban in nearby Afghanistan. The unrest in Kyrgyzstan did not appear likely to spread across former Soviet Central Asia, however.

The chaos erupted after elite police at government headquarters in the capital, Bishkek, began shooting to drive back crowds of demonstrators called onto the streets by opposition parties for a day of protest.

The crowds took control of the state TV building and looted it, then marched toward the Interior Ministry, according to Associated Press reporters on the scene, before changing direction and attacking a national security building nearby. They were repelled by security forces loyal to President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Since coming to power in 2005 on a wave of street protests known as the Tulip Revolution, Bakiyev has ensured a measure of stability in this predominantly secular Muslim nation, but many observers say he has done so at the expense of democratic standards while enriching himself and his family.

Over the past two years, Kyrgyz authorities have clamped down on free media, and opposition activists say they have routinely been subjected to physical intimidation and targeted by politically motivated criminal investigations. Many of the opposition leaders once were allies of Bakiyev.

Anti-government forces have been in disarray until recently, but widespread anger over a 200 percent hike in electricity and heating gas bills has galvanized the fractious opposition.

Temir Sariyev, an opposition party leader, told The Associated Press that "the prime minister has submitted his resignation, and the entire government is also resigning." Sariyev earlier announced a coalition of opposition politicians had agreed on a new prime minister as well as a new interior minister and new security chief.

The claims could not immediately be confirmed.

An Associated Press report saw dozens of wounded demonstrators lining the corridors of one of Bishkek's main hospitals, a block away from the main square, where doctors were unable to cope with the flood of patients. Weeping nurses slumped over dead bodies, doctors shouted at each other and the floors were covered in blood.

Kyrgyzstan's Health Ministry said 40 people had died and more than 400 were wounded in clashes with police. Opposition activist Toktoim Umetalieva said at least 100 people had died after police opened fire with live ammunition.

Opposition activist Shamil Murat told the AP that Interior Minister Moldomusa Kongatiyev had been beaten to death by a mob in the western town of Talas where the unrest began a day ago. The respected Fergana.ru Web site reported later that Kongatiyev was badly beaten but had not died, saying its own reporter had witnessed the beating.

The unrest began Tuesday in the western city of Talas, where demonstrators stormed a government office and held a governor hostage, prompting a government warning of "severe" repercussions for continuing unrest.

The opposition called nationwide protests for Wednesday and police in Bishkek at first used rubber bullets, tear gas, water cannons and concussion grenades to try to control crowds of young men clad in black who were chasing police officers, beating them up and seizing their arms, trucks and armored personnel carriers.
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AP Exclusive: Kyrgyz uprising seizes security HQ - Yahoo! News
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Old 04-08-2010, 02:34 PM
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Default Re: Kyrgyz uprising seizes security HQ

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Heavy shooting breaks out again in Kyrgyz capital

By PETER LEONARD, Associated Press Writer Peter Leonard, Associated Press Writer 2 hrs 8 mins ago

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan The president of Kyrgyzstan declared from hiding Thursday that he would not surrender to a violent uprising that put the opposition in control of much of the country, home to a U.S. air base key to the war in nearby Afghanistan.

Just after he spoke, automatic weapons fire broke out in the capital miles from the Manas facility, where flights were at least temporarily halted and troops were confined to the base.

It was not clear if Kyrgyz forces controlled by the opposition in Bishkek were battling loyalists of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, or simply firing to deter looters after nightfall. There appeared to be little evidence of armed men loyal to Bakiyev in the capital before dusk.

The opposition has seized vital official buildings in Bishkek and elsewhere and was giving orders to at least some security forces, declaring it controlled four of the nation's seven provinces. Opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva said parliament had been dissolved and she would head an interim government that would rule for six months until elections were held. She urged Bakiyev to resign.

Bakiyev, who has fled the northern capital for his stronghold in the south, told a Russian radio station that "I don't admit defeat in any way." But he also said he recognized that "even though I am president, I don't have any real levers of power."

Although the opposition has previously voiced objection to Manas, Otunbayeva said there were no plans yet to review the lease that runs out in July and her government would meet U.S. diplomats for talks in Bishkek.

"Give us time, it will take time for us to understand and fix the situation," Otunbayeva said.

Associated Press reporters could hear sustained shooting every few minutes from different directions in Bishkek, along with some single shots. Lights in most buildings including hotels were put out over fears they would attract gunfire.

U.S. military officials said Kyrgyzstan halted flights for 12 hours Wednesday at the Manas air base, confining troops to the base, and did not say if flights had resumed. There are about 1,100 troops there including contingents from Spain and France, also supporting NATO operations in Afghanistan.

This mountainous former Soviet republic exploded Wednesday after protesters furious over corruption and soaring utility bills stormed government buildings in Bishkek. Riot police fired straight into crowds. The Health Ministry said at least 74 people were killed and 400 people hospitalized. After hours of clashes the opposition seized vital official buildings in the capital and elsewhere and was giving orders to significant numbers of security forces.

Bakiyev was emphatic Thursday that he was still the elected leader of the nation of 5 million people that has been courted by China, Russia and the U.S. for its proximity to Afghanistan and resource-rich neighboring nations.

"I do not intend to relinquish power. I see no point," he said, adding that his re-election nine months ago proved he still had popular support.


Click image to see photos of protests in Kyrgyzstan


AP

Since coming to power in 2005 amid street protests known as the Tulip Revolution, Bakiyev had ensured a measure of stability, but the opposition said he did so at the expense of democratic standards while enriching himself and his family.

He gave his relatives, including his son, top government and economic posts and faced the same accusations of corruption and cronyism that led to the ouster of his predecessor, Askar Akayev.

Even though his security forces fired into crowds of demonstrators a day earlier, killing dozens and wounding hundreds, Bakiyev seemed to rule out further violence.

"You think the president elected by the people will take up arms against the people? What nonsense," he said.

Asked why he fled Bishkek, he said: "I wouldn't have left, but when they started firing on my windows, it was only by chance that I avoided injury."

Otunbayeva, the former foreign minister, said the president was in the southern region of Jalal-Abad, the heart of his political stronghold. This raised concerns that Bakiyev could try to secure his own survival by exploiting the country's traditional split between the more urban north and the rural south.

Eyewitnesses in southern Kyrgyzstan told The Associated Press that the situation there was tense and unstable, and the region had both armed men who appeared to be still supporting Bakiyev along with opposition supporters.

The new interim defense minister said the armed forces had joined the opposition and will not be used against protesters.

"Special forces and the military were used against civilians in Bishkek ... and other places," Ismail Isakov said. "This will not happen in the future."

In 2009, Kyrgyzstan said U.S. forces would have to leave Manas, a decision made shortly after Russia granted Kyrgyzstan more than $2 billion in aid and loans. The government later reversed its stance and signed a one-year deal with the U.S. that raised the rent to about $63 million a year from $17 million.

The U.S. is also paying $67 million for airport improvements and navigation systems and another $51.5 million to combat drug trafficking and terrorism and promote economic development.

Related Searches: ismail isakov, roza otunbayeva, president kurmanbek bakiyev, askar akayev, tulip revolution 953 Comments
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Heavy shooting breaks out again in Kyrgyz capital - Yahoo! News
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