London — Uzbekistan Shavkat President Mirziyoyev said Sunday that there were casualties between civilians and law enforcement officers after a rare protest in Central Asian countries, and that at least five exiled opposition politicians were killed.
In a statement posted online, Milziyoev was "destructive" by rioters throwing stones, setting fire and attacking police in the city of Nukus, the capital of northwestern Karakalpakstan. He said he had taken action.
"Unfortunately, there are casualties between citizens and law enforcement officers," he said. The statement did not identify the number and nature of casualties.
Exiled opposition politician Pulat Ahunov told Reuters that at least five people had been killed, based on contact with local sources and video evidence. He said there were unconfirmed reports that dozens more people had died.
Mr Afnov said a state of emergency was imposed by the authorities, preventing people from moving around and getting more information.
Uzbekistan is a tightly controlled former Soviet Republic, and the government is cracking down on all forms of opposition. This is the second outbreak of anxiety in Central Asia this year after Kazakhstan quelled a major protest in January and Russia and other former Soviet republics sent troops to help restore order to the authorities. was.
The protests in Uzbekistan were prompted by a planned constitutional amendment to deprive Karakalpakstan of autonomy. About a turn, the president withdrew those plans on Saturday.
Ahunov, the chairman of the opposition Berlik party, told Reuters in Sweden that he had accused him of using deadly power.
"The authorities should have opted for dialogue and negotiation from the beginning," he said.
He said he was afraid that the situation could escalate into an ethnic conflict between the Uzbeks and the Karakalpaks, a minority in their native language. Authorities convened a public meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation, he added.
Kazakhstan has expressed concern about what happened in Uzbekistan and welcomed the authorities' move to stabilize the situation.
Steve Swerdlow, an associate professor of human rights at the University of Southern California and an expert in the region, has long avoided discussing the concerns of ethnic minority groups in Uzbekistan. Said that.
"In this case, the government will be as transparent as possible about what happened, including casualties and the use of force, allowing independent media coverage, and in the long run. Difficult discussions should be held with the locals. Residents about the concerns at the heart of these large-scale protests. " (Report by Reuters, additional report by Olzhas Auyezov, writing by Mark Trevelyan, editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Alexandra Hudson)