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Uzbek Opposition Party Reports Protest Rally in Samarkand

A banned Uzbek opposition party says hundreds of people have gathered in the eastern Samarkand region to protest the detention of a local human rights activist over the weekend.

The leader of the outlawed Free Peasants party, Nigora Khidoyatova, estimated the crowd at 600, but there was no official confirmation of the protest. She said they were protesting Sunday's arrest on corruption charges of Norboy Kholjigitov, a member of the Organization of the Human Rights in Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile, a diplomatic group formed to monitor the government's investigation into last month's crackdown on protesters in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon, held its first meeting Wednesday.

Uzbek officials say the group established contacts with the country's law enforcement authorities and the parliamentary panel that is handling the investigation.

The group consists of diplomats from China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

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