Sporadic gunfire has been reported in Andijon and other border areas of Uzbekistan, where security forces fired on protesters last week, reportedly killing as many as 500 people.

President Islam Karimov has denied security forces opened fire on demonstrators, as witnesses claimed. But the authoritarian government has sought to restrict access for reporters in the affected areas.

The Associated Press quotes a local doctor as saying that about 500 bodies had been laid out at a school for collection by relatives. There was no independent confirmation.

President Karimov blamed the bloodshed on Islamic radicals trying to overthrow the government.

Several countries, including the United States, have called for restraint. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has called the Andijan crackdown a clear abuse of human rights.

Some of information for this report provided by AP and AFP.