Army 'kills 200' in second Uzbek city as thousands head for border

Authorities in Uzbekistan have lost control of a key border town in the eastern Ferghana valley, despite a brutal clampdown that has so far claimed the lives of an estimated 700 people.

If reports of further killings can be confirmed the violence would be the most brutal of its kind in Asia since China gunned down hundreds of democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The hardline government of Islam Karimov, an ally of London and Washington in the "war on terror", has dispatched an armoured force into the restive area in the east of the country after mass arrests of alleged radical Islamists sparked what appeared to be a popular uprising.

Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov, head of Appeal, a local human rights advocacy group, said troops had killed about 200 demonstrators on Saturday in Pakhtabad, just outside the city of Andijan, where witnesses saw security forces kill up to 500 civilians the previous night.

United Nations officials, rights groups and Kyrgyz border police said thousands of refugees who were fleeing the violence in and around Andijan had made for the nearby border area, leading to further unrest.

Security forces loyal to the regime of Mr Karimov had last night sealed off the town of Korasuv on the border with Kyrgyzstan.

Heavily armed police set up roadblocks on the approach to Korasuv and officials admitted they had lost control of the town, which is an economic lifeline to the more affluent and liberal Kyrgyzstan .

"There is no police in there and there is no civil administration there," a police official said.

Andijan itself has been turned into a civilian ghost town. The city, which has a population of 300,000, was dominated yesterday by a massive military presence, reinforced by police on every street corner as the government reluctantly relaxed the strict controls in which reporters were ejected and the area sealed off on Sunday.

Outside the prison compound where 23 local businessman had been held in the incident that sparked the protests, a wrecked car sprayed with bullet holes gave an indication of the scale of fighting.

In the city centre, armoured personnel carriers, tanks and army trucks underlined the sense of a city under siege, while lorries loaded with soldiers carrying automatic rifles rumbled through.

The headquarters of the regional administration, where the protesters gathered in support of the insurrection, was still blocked off by soldiers. The blackened and charred upper storeys of what had been the nerve centre of Mr Karimov's authority, pock-marked with bullet holes, bore witness to the fighting.

Mr Karimov has sought to blame the violence on radical Islamists ­ with alleged links to al-Qa'ida ­ attempting to overthrow the secular government in Tashkent. But human rights groups and independent observers, including the former British ambassador Craig Murray, say Mr Karimov was leading a brutal police state, propped up by the arbitrary detention and torture of Muslim dissidents protesting at the desperate economic conditions.

Separatist movements in the Ferghana valley, which runs across the eastern border into Kyrgyzstan, sprang up in the early Nineties in response to Tashkent's persecution of minorities in the area. The security forces have waged a ruthless campaign to crush both the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which seeks a Muslim state in Ferghana, and Hizb ut-Tahrir, another Islamist group whose members have been blamed for a bomb attack and labelled "terrorists" by the Karimov regime.

Sympathy for the protesters has spread as far as the capital, where a small gathering of people risked the wrath of the authorities to lay flowers in commemoration of the bloodiest days of fighting in the country's post-Soviet era.

"It was a black day in Uzbek history. We are ashamed," said Tashpulat Yuldashev, a political analyst. "We dissidents have been long been afraid of standing up to express our discontent. But this time we can't stay silent," he said.

Many of the activists were wearing black armbands and ribbons.

The rebellion in the Ferghana valley has given the country's fragmented and disorganised opposition movement a fresh momentum to unite and openly express opinions, Mr Yuldashev added. Opposition parties are banned from running in elections.

State television has so far ignored the uprising, while Western and Russian broadcasts have been cut off since the clashes began on Friday.

News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo in action for Real Madrid
football
News
i100
News
The comedian, 42, made the controversial comment following the athlete’s sentencing to five years for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp on Tuesday
peopleComedian's quip about Reeva Steenkamp was less than well received at music magazine awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Behaviour Support Assistant (BSA)

(?19,817 ? ?21,734)Pro Rata: Randstad Education Leeds: Behaviour Support Assis...

HE Dyslexia Tutor/Study Skills Tutor P/T

£21 - £22 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: Randstad Education has been help...

Newly Qualified Teachers

£90 - £115 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: We are currently seeking dy...

IT & Business Studies Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: ICT & Business Studies Teacher f...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?