'At least 142 arrested' in Kyrgyzstan protests

Kyrgyzstan Materials 29 July 2009 14:52 (UTC +04:00)

Kyrgyzstan's opposition said at least 142 demonstrators were arrested on Wednesday at protests in and around Bishkek, the capital of the volatile Central Asian country, AFP reported.

An opposition spokesman said that 80 people were arrested at a march from a Bishkek automobile market to the presidential palace, while 42 people were arrested at a separate march on the palace from a livestock market.

In addition, 20 opposition supporters were arrested in the village of Besh-Kungei outside Bishek, said the spokesman, Ulan Manayev.

The protestors had organised various protests in and around the capital in a bid to thwart a police crackdown.

They had hoped to march on the presidential palace to protest alleged fraud in last week's presidential election, which ended in a landslide victory by incumbent Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Meanwhile the opposition said other protests were taking place throughout the country: "They are also arresting our people in the regions," Manayev said.

Initial reports said that 200 people were arrested in the march from the automobile market to the presidential palace, but the opposition later said that the number was much lower.

Many people in the 200-strong crowd turned out to be plainclothes police masquerading as demonstrators, while some of the protestors there managed to flee, Manayev said.

Manayev initially said 42 people were arrested in the march leaving from the automobile market, but then clarified that 80 were arrested there and that the figure of 42 applied to the march from the livestock market.

The protestors were supporters of main opposition candidate Almazbek Atambayev, who has denounced last Thursday's election as illegitimate.