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Kyrgyzstan police raiding Uzbek areas: MSF

Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said Wednesday that police have been carrying out “very organised raids” in ethnic Uzbek regions of southern Kyrgyzstan’s Osh city, which recently suffered from deadly ethnic riots.

“The raids are made by police who are searching for injured Uzbek fighters. They are taking place in a very organised manner,” said Andrei Slavuckij, an MSF coordinator in Kyrgyzstan.

“The military teams arrive in the Uzbek districts at night, but also in the day, and go door to door to clean up the houses. For them, every injured person is potentially a fighter,” added the official during his visit to Geneva.

“We have seen these raids before our eyes, with acts of violence,” said the coordinator, who could not quantify the frequency of these raids.

Officials have said up to 2,000 people may have been killed in the clashes that broke out in June between the Kyrgyz majority and the Uzbek minority.

Slavuckij said families of injured people were hiding them “here and there,” in a bid to prevent them from being taken by security forces.

There are cases of men taken by police and put in “mobile prisons which used to serve as ambulances,” said the MSF worker.

Such action by the security forces are adding to a climate of fear and mistrust between the Uzbek and Kyrgyz communities, said MSF, warning that the small central Asian state could once again suffer from new clashes.

“There is a continuing atmosphere of violence. People live in ruins and fear reigns. The Uzbek population are afraid,” added Slavuckij.

Injured Uzbeks are also avoiding hospitals due to armed soldiers who are “intimidating the patients” and who are going through lists of the ill in doctors’ offices, claimed the MSF worker.

MSF also noted a growing number of patients showing signs of cuts or torture.

“Faced with such a situation, the mental health services are stretched,” said Slavuckij.

The charity said it had raised the issue of soldiers in hospitals with authorities, but said that it had not led to any change.