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Kyrgyz police quash protest, say foil coup

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050617/wl_nm/kyrgyzstan_dc;_ylt=AmaN4bXZM3J1a1FE6G4mcBgUewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b3JuZGZhBHNlYwM3MjE- Kyrgyz police quash protest, say
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 17, 2005
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20050617/wl_nm/kyrgyzstan_dc;_ylt=AmaN4bXZM3J1a1FE6G4mcBgUewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b3JuZGZhBHNlYwM3MjE-

      Kyrgyz police quash protest, say foil coup

      By Olga Dzyubenko 1 hour, 32 minutes ago

      BISHKEK (Reuters) - More than 1,000 Kyrgyz troops
      fired tear gas on Friday to drive protesters from a
      key state building, foiling what the government said
      was an attempt by supporters of the ousted president
      to regain power.

      Acting President Kurmanbek Bakiyev blamed the riots on
      followers of his predecessor Askar Akayev, who fled
      into exile after a coup in March, and said he would
      personally defend his government "with a gun in my
      hands if necessary."

      The Central Asian nation of 5 million has been
      unstable since Akayev's ousting, and was further
      jolted by an uprising last month in neighboring
      Uzbekistan, where troops killed hundreds of
      demonstrators in the town of Andizhan. Dozens of
      refugees fled to Kyrgyzstan.

      Police in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek drove the
      protesters out of the government building and chased
      them through nearby streets, shooting in the air and
      firing tear gas.

      The protests were sparked by the exclusion of would-be
      opposition candidate Urmatbek Baryktabasov from
      running in presidential elections next month.
      Electoral officials said he is a Kazakh citizen and
      hence ineligible.

      "The republic has the strength to halt activities
      aimed at harming our citizens. If there are such
      attempts, they will get a forceful response," Bakiyev
      told reporters after a closed parliament discussion of
      the events.

      "Today's events were organized by people close to
      Akayev," said Bakiyev. Parliamentary deputies linked
      Baryktabasov to Akayev's son-in-law, who is wanted by
      Kyrgyz police keen to investigate his business
      interests.

      SHOPS CLOSED

      The crowds had dispersed by evening, although around
      half the city center's shops were closed, their owners
      scared of a repetition of the looting that followed
      the March coup.

      Around 1,000 soldiers and police ringed the main
      government building. Hundreds of civilians in pink arm
      bands volunteered to defend the building and sat
      behind its high fence.

      "All these misguided people, and there were 5,000 of
      them if not more, have been thrown out of the city. We
      have detained around 300 of them," Acting Interior
      Minister Muratbek Sutalinov told Reuters outside the
      White House.

      "An attempt was made to seize the government buiding
      and probably state power in the country as a whole,"
      he said.

      The head of the central electoral commission,
      Tuigunaaly Abdraimov, told reporters the riots could
      complicate the July 10 presidential polls, which
      Bakiyev is overwhelming favorite to win.

      Bakiyev pledged that he would not allow the government
      to be overthrown, and the vote would go ahead as
      planned.

      "I will not run away ... And I will defend this
      government with a gun in my hands if necessary. I know
      how to use a gun," he said.

      (Additional reporting by Dmitry Solovyov)
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