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Kyrgyz Police Fire Tear Gas to Quell Clashes Among Protesters

Special riot police in Kyrgyzstan have resorted to using tear gas to halt clashes between opposition and pro-government supporters in the capital, Bishkek. The president accuses the opposition of trying to seize power illegally.

Opposition and pro-government supporters clashed briefly in downtown Bishkek, Tuesday, throwing bottles and beating one another with sticks.

Moments later, riot police moved in, setting off smoke bombs and tear gas to separate the opposing factions.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, but the violence marks a definite escalation of the political crisis, now in its sixth day.

President Kurmanbek Bakiyev earlier appeared before reporters for the first time in days and accused the opposition of trying to seize power illegally. He referred to an extraordinary session of parliament, overnight, in which the opposition put forward a new draft constitution, curtailing the president's powers. The legality of the move is still in question.