Police lockdown, demonstrations in fractious Kyrgyz region
Hundreds of demonstrators and police were on the streets Monday in one of Kyrgyzstan's most fractious regions in the wake of a violent inter-ethnic clash, DPA reported.
More than 500 people were protesting in the southern city of Osh to demand official reaction to Sunday's fighting between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks.
A conflict between a group of young men and taxi drivers in the Aravan district of Osh province was the initial cause of a massive street brawl that forced a shutdown of most businesses in the region, according to a Kyrgyz Interior Ministry statement.
Security troop presence on Monday was heavy in Osh, the provincial centre, with hundreds of law enforcement officers manning checkpoints or patrolling along major streets, and army units in the area on alert, Interfax reported.
"We have ordered the centre of the city closed, all businesses and banks to shut their doors and taxis not to work so that there will be no further conflict," said Pauzulla Mirzabaramov, an Osh city spokesman.
Police on Monday arrested six men believed to be participants in the Sunday brawl. Substantial property damage was reported.
A meeting of Osh district elders was planned for Monday evening to discuss other possible measures to prevent a spread of the inter-ethnic violence, Mirzabaramov said.
Kyrgyzstan's Osh and Jalalabad districts in 2010 were the scene of mass fighting between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, leaving 431 dead and thousands injured. Most casualties occurred as gangs raided shops and businesses, or fought among themselves on city streets.
Both cities are located in the Ferghana valley, a relatively wealthy lowland controlled in parts by Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikstan.
Uzbeks are a minority group in Kyrgyzstan, but the most numerous ethnicity in the Ferghana region.