News / Asia

Kyrgyzstan Remains Calm, But Tense

There is a quiet but tense calm over the capital of Kyrgyzstan Saturday morning despite a warning by the country's self-proclaimed interim government that more violence is expected.

Kyrgyzstan remains polarized. Thousands of people turned out Friday to mourn the victims of Wednesday's uprising against the government.

In the capital, the opposition claims it is in control after mass protests forced the President to flee to his stronghold in the south.

The self-proclaimed interim government says it expects further violence. Former foreign minister Rosa Otunbayeva, now leading that government, says she will not negotiate with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

In Jalalabad, the president is vowing not to yield power. He has disappeared from public view but is telling reporters he fears for his life if he tries to return to the capital.  

The violence peaked Wednesday when security forces fired on protesters attacking government buildings here in Bishkek.

The security chief of the self-proclaimed government, Keneshbek Dushebaev, says clashes have been continuing sporadically since then.

He tells reporters more than 80 people have died and the number of wounded exceeds 400. He accuses the president of falling to such a low moral level that he would fire on his own people in an attempt to remain in power.

The dispute has also brought into question the fate of the U.S. military air base at Manas, near the capital. It is a key facility for supporting the international military campaign against insurgents in nearby Afghanistan.

The opposition has opposed the United States utilizing the airport. Its leaders now say their priority is stabilizing the country before turning to the issue of the base.

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