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Red Cross: Kyrgyz Authorities Overwhelmed by Ethnic Riots

The International Red Cross says authorities and emergency services in southern Kyrgyzstan are completely overwhelmed by violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks that left at least 100 people dead and more than 1,200 others wounded.

The deputy head of the Red Cross mission in the country, Severine Chappaz, said Sunday the organization is extremely concerned about reports of severe brutality.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the situation with the chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as the world body assessed humanitarian aid needs in the affected region.

After a third deadly night of riots, Kyrgyzstan's interim government said Sunday that it will send reserve forces to the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad. It gave security forces shoot-to-kill powers.

Russia sent paratroopers to protect its airbase in the country but rejected interim President Rosa Otunbayeva's request that Moscow send peacekeeping troops. She warned Kyrgyzstan could face collapse.

The Kremlin promised humanitarian assistance and said it will discuss the issue Monday within a Moscow-led security bloc of former Soviet republics. Many victims of the rioting have been flown to Moscow to receive medical treatment.

Uzbek emergency officials say the violence has forced tens of thousands of ethnic Uzbeks to flee.

Camps have been set up across neighboring Uzbekistan for refugees, many of whom have gunshot wounds and have seen their homes torched by armed gangs of Kyrgyz men.

Osh and Jalalabad are strongholds for the former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was ousted in an uprising in April and fled the country.

Ms. Otunbayeva has blamed Bakiyev's supporters for instigating the violence, accusing them of seeking to disrupt a constitutional referendum on reducing presidential powers scheduled for later this month.

Mr. Bakiyev issued a statement from Belarus Sunday, denying any role in the violence and criticizing the interim authorities for not protecting the people.

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