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Diplomats Increase Pressure on Uzbekistan for Independent Probe of Clashes


Diplomats have stepped up pressure on Uzbekistan's leader to reconsider his opposition to an independent probe of last week's deadly clashes feared to have left hundreds dead.

The move follows President Islam Karimov's polite rejection of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's request for an international probe into the incident, in which security forces fired on unarmed protesters.

Friday, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, reaffirmed her calls on the president to allow an investigation of the Uzbek military's crackdown, which began on May 13 in and around the city of Andijan.

In Brussels, an EU spokeswoman said it is very "important" to find out and establish true facts.

Witnesses, human rights groups and Uzbek political opposition activists say the crackdown was an indiscriminate slaughter by the Uzbek military, leaving between 500 and 1,000 people dead. But the Karimov government puts the death toll at 169.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.