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OSCE Calls for International Police Force in Kyrgyzstan

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is calling for the deployment of an international police force to help stabilize Kyrgyzstan following deadly ethnic clashes.

The OSCE's special envoy to Central Asia, Kimmo Kiljunen, told reporters in Bishkek some 50 to 100 police officers could help speed the process of stabilization, including ensuring the safe return of refugees.

Thousands of Uzbek refugees have begun crossing back into Kyrgyzstan from Uzbekistan after fleeing deadly clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks that began June 10 in the southern Kyrgyz cities of Osh and Jalalabad. Some 400,000 people fled the violence.

Kyrgyz authorities have been raiding Uzbek neighborhoods in the south in recent days, in search of what they say are illegal weapons. At least two people were killed on Monday.

The raids have increased tensions and fears among Uzbeks ahead of Kyrgyzstan's constitutional referendum on Sunday.

The interim government, led by Roza Otunbayeva, has vowed to press ahead with the June 27 vote despite opposition from some residents and political parties.

Kyrgyzstan's Central Elections Commission said six of its officials in the south had been briefly kidnapped in Osh on Wednesday. Officials did not give further details.

The government took power after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted during an April 7 uprising that killed 85 people.

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