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Rights Group: Kyrgyz Forces Aided Attacks on Uzbeks

An ethnic Uzbek holds his head in his hands as he stands beside the wreckage of his burned out home in Osh (file photo – 14 June 2010)

An international human rights group says Kyrgyz government forces contributed to violence against the Uzbek minority during June's ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Human Rights Watch said in a report Monday that government forces went into Uzbek areas to disarm residents, and also removed makeshift barricades, "giving the mobs access to the neighborhoods."

The 91-page report cites serious concerns that some government forces either "actively participated in, or facilitated attacks" on Uzbeks and that the extent of that participation must be investigated.

Thousands of homes were torched in the clashes between ethnic majority Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks in the southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad, forcing 400,000 people to flee. More than 350 people were killed.

HRW says Uzbeks are routinely denied their rights to a lawyer and are subjected to ill treatment and torture as part of a government drive to investigate and punish those responsible for the rioting.

The Kyrgyz government had no immediate comment on the report.

Human Rights Watch on Monday called for national and international probes to find out if the government did everything it could to protect its people.

Last month, The United Nations' top human rights official said her staff had received reports that Kyrgyz security forces tortured, beat and illegally detained ethnic Uzbeks.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in July authorized the deployment of a 52-member police force to southern Kyrgyzstan to help keep the peace before October 10 parliamentary elections.