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Kyrgyz Protesters Storm Government Building

June 18, 2005|From Associated Press

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan — Troops with truncheons and tear gas beat back protesters who had stormed government headquarters Friday in the biggest unrest in Kyrgyzstan since its longtime president was ousted in March. The clash injured 39 people.

Protesters said they were supporters of a candidate denied registration for the July 10 presidential election. But interim President Kurmanbek Bakiyev accused ousted President Askar A. Akayev of funding the disorder.

Interior Ministry troops regained control of the building about an hour after a crowd of about 2,000 had forced its way through a gate.

Up to 100 troops carrying riot shields and truncheons sealed off entrances to the building. They then advanced on the crowd outside the building, beating their shields and causing protesters to break and run.

The Health Ministry said 39 people were injured and 12 of them were hospitalized. Police later detained 300 suspected participants for interrogation, Interfax news agency reported late Friday, citing the Interior Ministry press service.

The July election was called after a March 24 uprising in the former Soviet Central Asian republic forced Akayev to flee. He had ruled the country since 1990, a year before it became independent.

Acting Interior Minister Murat Sutalinov accused would-be candidate Urmat Baryktabasov of organizing the unrest. Election officials say his registration was denied because Kyrgyz officials had proof that he was a citizen of neighboring Kazakhstan.

A spokeswoman for Baryktabasov's political party, Bermet Turduniyazova, told Associated Press that neither Baryktabasov nor the party had been involved in the storming of the government building.

Seven candidates have been registered to take part in the election, including Bakiyev, the front-runner.

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