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Uzbek troops shut off second town

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4549873.stm Uzbek troops shut off second town Troops in Uzbekistan have shut off the eastern town of Korasuv, where
    Message 1 of 1 , May 16, 2005

      Uzbek troops shut off second town

      Troops in Uzbekistan have shut off the eastern town of
      Korasuv, where locals took control on Saturday.

      The unrest had spread from nearby Andijan, where
      protests over the trial of 23 local businessmen turned
      bloody on Friday after troops opened fire.

      Several hundred people were killed during Friday's
      protests, according to local doctors and NGOs.

      UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw said his Uzbek
      counterpart had pledged to allow diplomats access to
      Andijan on Tuesday.

      Mr Straw made the comments at a news conference in
      London, where he repeated his condemnation of Friday's
      events, telling reporters that the violence "cannot be

      Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov said 10 soldiers
      and "many more" protesters were killed in Andijan, and
      blamed the unrest on Islamic extremists.

      The protests were sparked by a long-running trial of
      local businessmen accused of Islamic extremism. Their
      families say they are innocent and have been unfairly

      There is also long-term pent-up anger in Uzbekistan
      regarding poverty, unemployment and other social

      On Saturday, as news of the violence in Andijan
      filtered into Korasuv, local people went to the mayor
      demanding that a border crossing to the Kyrgyz side of
      the town, shut down by the authorities two years ago,
      be reopened.

      Correspondents say locals saw the closed border as an
      attempt to grind them down by denying them access to
      the thriving market on the other side.

      When the mayor refused, he was beaten. Angry crowds
      set fire to the militia headquarters, the road police
      and the tax inspector's office - the three most
      visible representatives of the central government.

      Uzbek troops have since rebuilt two bridges over the
      border, but have set up checkpoints on the roads
      leading into Korasuv to seal off the area.

      Korasuv residents have been meeting to discuss how to
      run their own affairs. The town is currently reported
      to be calm, but there is apprehension that the central
      authorities may move to take control, says the BBC's
      Ian MacWilliam in Kyrgyzstan.

      He says the Korasuv unrest is exactly the kind of
      local rebellion the Uzbek government hoped to prevent
      by a show of force in Andijan.

      Some 500 people have fled over the Uzbek border
      towards Kyrgyzstan. It is not clear how many of them
      were involved in the Andijan demonstration.

      A spokesman for the UN's refugee agency, Peter
      Kessler, said the authorities in Kyrgyzstan were
      preparing for large numbers of refugees from

      He said several dozen of those that had already
      crossed the border were wounded.

      Andijan itself is reported to be quiet, with soldiers
      and tanks patrolling the streets.

      But the BBC's Monica Whitlock, in Tashkent, says
      prices are rising fast in Andijan because roads into
      the town are blocked and traders are afraid to cross
      army checkpoints.

      Since poverty was one of the chief reasons why so many
      people protested on Friday, this is a very important
      issue, our correspondent says.
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