Kyrgyz politics, crime may be behind violence: UN

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Political and even "criminal agendas" may have sparked the outbreak of deadly inter-ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, a UN human rights official said Thursday.

"There are indications that there could be political and maybe criminal agendas driving the unrest," said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Colville cautioned that the social environment in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, which has been at the heart of the violence that erupted last Friday, was complicated.

"It's still very unclear to say what exactly happened. There are many rumors, allegations, conspiracy theories," he said.

"And at this point it is extremly hard to work out what is true, partly true or not true at all. Indeed, inflammatory rumours may have been used to stoke the violence."

Colville said the events needed careful investigation and analysis before judgements could be drawn.

"At this stage the important thing is to stop the gross violations of human rights and serious crimes that are occurring," he said.

"There is no value at this early stage in fixating on labels. The priority is to stop the situation from escalating and ensuring accountability for what has occurred."

The fighting in south Kyrgyzstan over the past week has left at least 191 people dead and 2,000 wounded, according to the Kyrgyz health ministry.

The United Nations said Thursday that at least 400,000 people had fled their homes, including about 100,000 who sought refuge across the border in Uzbekistan.

© 2010 AFP

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