A state of emergency was declared in Jalalabad yesterday after two people died and 74 were injured in clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian ethnic tinderbox.
Kyrgyzstan has been in turmoil since a popular revolt toppled President Kurmanbek Bakiyev on 7 April, kindling fears of a civil war in the impoverished former Soviet republic, which hosts both US and Russian military bases.
Kyrgyz special forces fired into the air to try to prevent thousands of Kyrgyz from storming an Uzbek-funded university in Jalalabad, the home region and power base of Bakiyev.
"We condemn all attempts to foment violence and sow the seeds of discord among our people, especially between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz," acting President Roza Otunbayeva told reporters in the capital Bishkek. "We hope that common sense will prevail and that we shall be able to prevent a conflict."
But in what could be a sign of growing instability, Ms Otunbayeva's government later said she would act as President until the end of 2011, after which she will be replaced. Interim leaders had previously said a presidential election could take place sometime this year.
The government declared a state of emergency in Jalalabad and the adjoining Suzak district until 1 June, and imposed a curfew from 10pm to 6am. Once it took effect on last night, the streets of Jalalabad were empty and the situation became calm and stable, government official Zamir Sabirov said.
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