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Kyrgyzstan Tense After Night of Looting

  • Lisa McAdams

Tensions continue after a night of unrest in Bishkek, the capital of the former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan. A lot of comparisons have been made between the uprising over the alleged electoral fraud in Kyrgyzstan and the earlier revolutions sparked by disputed elections in Ukraine and Georgia. But during 24 hours, VOA Moscow bureau chief Lisa McAdams witnessed the one key difference in Bishkek's revolution - looting and violence.

"I happened to arrive at the height of the looting and sporadic gunfire that was erupting late Friday on the central streets near the presidential palace - not far from my hotel.

Taxi and bus service was halted to the largely darkened airport, with drivers saying they were too afraid to be out on the roads. So, I spent the night in the near-abandoned airport.

Shortly after dawn, I managed to catch a ride into the city, where I saw evidence of wide-scale looting. The entire last half of the 40-minute ride I saw nothing but smashed shop windows on both sides of the road. The biggest targets were food and electronic goods stores.

There was no sign of any police or people.

A tense calm is reported Saturday, with gangs of citizen watch groups reportedly roaming the streets to try and encourage calm, as another night in the so-called Garden City on the Silk Road approaches."

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