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Emergency Declared in Kyrgyz City Following Deadly Clashes

Kyrgyzstan's interim government has declared a state of emergency in a southern city where ethnic clashes have killed at least two people and wounded 50 others.

The government decree Wednesday also establishes a curfew in the city of Jalal-Abad, where witnesses say thousands of ethnic Kyrgyz tried to storm an Uzbek-founded university.

Those in the crowd were demanding the arrest of an Uzbek community leader they accuse of inciting racial tension.

Gunfire erupted during the demonstration, but it was unclear who fired the shots. A Kyrgyz news agency quoted witnesses who said a group of about 1,500 Uzbeks armed with sticks were later making their way to the center of Jalal-Abad. Security forces were trying to contain the crowd.

Interim leader Roza Otunbayeva condemned the violence and said steps were being taken to prevent further unrest in the region. According to the decree, the security measures will last until June 1.

Southern Kyrgyzstan has been the scene of unrest since mass protests last month overthrew the former government of Kurmanbek Bakiyev.

Last week, Bakiyev supporters stormed government buildings in the provinces of Osh, Jalal-Abad and Batken. One person was killed and 60 others wounded during those clashes.

Mr. Bakiyev fled Kyrgyzstan after he was toppled on April 7 during protests that killed 85 people.

The interim government has charged Mr. Bakiyev with mass killings, accusing him of ordering security forces to open fire on anti-government protesters during the uprising. They are asking for his extradition from Belarus.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.