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Anti-Government Protests Rock Kyrgyzstan

Troops in Kyrgyzstan's capital fired guns into the air and used tear-gas to disperse protesters at a rally Thursday in support of a politician who recently returned from exile.

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators gathered outside the parliament building in Bishkek in support of Urmat Baryktabasov, who had fled Kyrgyzstan to escape criminal charges five years ago. Troops blocked another group of protesters heading for Bishkek, who staged a separate rally at a roadblock just outside the capital.

President Roza Otunbayeva said authorities arrested Baryktabasov and at least 20 of his supporters Thursday on suspicion of planning a coup.

Baryktabasov, a onetime presidential hopeful, fled Kyrgyzstan after authorities accused him of trying to seize power and oust the government in 2005. He returned after former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed in April's deadly uprising.

Kyrgyzstan's interim government has struggled to maintain stability since then, with an estimated 2,000 people killed in ethnic violence in the country's south in June.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.