Kyrgyzstan - Uzbekistan

Thousands of Uzbeks return to Kyrgyzstan

Authorities in Kyrgyzstan said Wednesday that more than half of the ethnic Uzbeks who fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan during ethnic clashes have returned in a mass influx across the border.


"The total number of Kyrgyz citizens who have returned has reached 46,124," the deputy head of the border service, Cholponbek Turusbekov, told journalists.

More than 10,000 returned within the previous 24 hours alone, he said, adding the situation at the border was stable and calm, with no incidents reported.

The Kyrgyz border service has said 75,000 Kyrgyz citizens fled to Uzbekistan during this month's violence, but international aid groups have put the number at more than 100,000.

Another 300,000 people were forced from their homes within the country, aid agencies have said.

Large-scale unrest has ceased in the country's south, where officials say up to 2,000 people may have been killed during the ethnic clashes between the majority Kyrgyz and minority Uzbek populations.

The country's interim government, which came to power when president Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in riots in April, is pushing forward with plans for a constitutional referendum on Sunday.

Some fear the referendum could trigger new unrest in the volatile Central Asian country.


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