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MRG says minorities need protection as anti-government uprising turns into ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan

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Minority Rights Group International (MRG) condemns the targeting of ethnic communities in recent attacks in Kyrgyzstan and calls on state authorities to guarantee the security of minorities who face a continued threat of violence.

"It is a tangible fear now that tension in Kyrgyzstan takes on an ethnic character. The interim government, struggling to act firmly, has to take these signals seriously and immediately stop the further escalation of ethnic violence," says Neil Clarke, MRG's Head of Europe and Central Asia Programmes.

Ethnic Turks and Russians have been targeted in a spate of violent attacks in the last week.

On 19 April, in Mayevka, a suburb of the capital city Bishkek, five people were killed and some 40 injured when rioters stormed the area. According to media reports, the violence had escalated and many houses belonging to ethnic Turks and Russians had been burned down by the time law enforcement officers arrived at the scene.

The attacks were sparked over a local land ownership dispute but display clear signs of targeting of certain minorities.

Meskhetian Turks are a smaller Kyrgyz ethnic group who were deported by the Soviet authorities from Meskheti, Georgia to Central Asia in 1944. Russians are the second largest minority group after Uzbeks, constituting 10.3 per cent of the Kyrgyz population.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers have been deployed in Mayevka to protect inhabitants. Police arrested more than a hundred people involved in the riot, reports said.

The latest attacks follow the overthrow of Kyrgyzstan's ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiev, on 7 April, after days of violent demonstrations that left at least 75 people killed.

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