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Kyrgyz Authorities Raid Uzbek Village in South

Violence flared again in southern Kyrgyzstan Monday, after authorities raided an Uzbek village, killing at least two people and wounding 23 others.

Kyrgyz officials say the operation in the village of Nariman was launched to look for suspected criminals and weapons. But rights groups say police carried out the raid near the city of Osh in response to the killing of a police officer last week.

Witnesses say a gunbattle erupted after security forces moved into the village. At least seven people were detained, and rights groups say several people were beaten.

The south remains tense following clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks that began June 10 in the cities of Osh and Jalalabad, and killed an estimated 2,000 people. Some 400,000 people have fled the violence, with many Uzbek refugees still fearful of returning home.

During a visit to the south Monday, interim leader Roza Otunbayeva pledged to go ahead with a June 27 referendum on a new constitution despite the continuing state of emergency in the region. She said any delays will lead to further instability.

Turkey and Kazakhstan on Monday backed the vote plan and said they would offer their support to Kyrgyzstan.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu discussed the situation in Kyrgyzstan with his Kazakh counterpart, Kanat Saudabayev, and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev in (the Kazakh capital) Astana. Davutoglu said the two countries plan to prepare joint actions to provide help to Kyrgyzstan immediately following the June 27 referendum.

The interim government has blamed deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his supporters for causing the violence, but he has denied any involvement.

Mr. Bakiyev was ousted in an April 7 uprising that killed 85 people. Many of his supporters are based in the south.

Meanwhile, international humanitarian aid continues to arrive in Kyrgyzstan. The United Nations World Food Program said a plane carrying food rations for 30,000 people arrived in Osh on Monday.

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