Kyrgyz troops 'storm Uzbek hospital'

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The Independent Online

Troops beat several dozen men and women in an Uzbek neighbourhood in southern Kyrgyzstan's main city yesterday in a raid that deepened refugees' fears about returning to an area seared by an eruption of deadly ethnic violence.

According to Anna Neistat, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, Kyrgyz troops moved before dawn into the Cheryomushki district of Osh and broke into one of the few buildings in the area that was not reduced to scorched ruins by ethnic Kyrgyz mobs 10 days ago. The building has served as a shelter and makeshift hospital for the few remaining Uzbeks. The Kyrgyz forces put all the men face down on the floor, beat them and detained 12, Dr Neistat said. The attackers also beat some of the women and stole cash and valuables from them.

Up to 400,000 ethnic Uzbeks, mostly women and children, remain in tent camps on both sides of the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, afraid to return to their homes after violence the government says killed as many as 2,000 people.

There were casualties on both sides but the violence appears to have been directed at ethnic Uzbeks. Uzbeks have accused the mostly ethnic Kyrgyz security forces of collusion in the attacks. Meanwhile, President Roza Otunbayeva signed a decree ordering the creation of a state-owned company to provide a US air base with fuel, replacing a series of private firms set up under the deposed government.

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