One Time Too Many
Kyrgyzstan erupted in violence late last night, resulting in at least 37 dead in the city of Osh, the second largest city in the nation. It’s not entirely clear what caused the rioting–though Interim President Roza Otunbayeva was quick to suggest Bakiyev loyalists–but Kyrgyzstan is a complex nation (aren’t they all). From the NYT out of Moscow:
But the region’s political conflicts are often laced with ethnic enmity, and some witnesses and local news outlets suggested that the violence started as a fight between groups of young Uzbeks and Kyrgyz, perhaps backed by opposing political forces.
“Everything happened suddenly,” Babur Bolshov, 28, a teacher and ethnic Uzbek, said by telephone. “A group of young Kyrgyz were going around with bottles of gasoline and burning homes where Uzbeks live and kiosks and supermarkets owned by Uzbeks.”
Gunfire and violence caused the interim government to declare a state of emergency and send in troops enforce peace and curfew for residents; Otunbayeva give a appeal to cease conflict alongside these efforts.
In one sense, it’s a little reassuring to see that the interim government has a handle on government services and can work to effectively utilize and enforce them; on the other, violence with these consequences so soon after the April riots does not speak well of its handle on its people. The numbers of dead and wounded have risen throughout the day; the likelihood of ethnic conflict continuing (which this probably is) remains high going into the weekend.
ETA: For more see Registan.