Unusual protests in the Central Asian country have killed civilians and law enforcement officials, Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev said Sunday, and an exiled opposition politician said at least five people had been killed.
In addition, a local government official told an Uzbek news website that thousands had been hospitalized.
In a statement posted online, Mirziyoyev said the rioters carried out “destructive operations” in the city of Nikos, the capital of northwestern Karakalpakstan region, throwing stones, setting fire and attacking police.
“Unfortunately, there are victims among civilians and law enforcement officers. The number and nature of the casualties were not disclosed in the statement,” he said.
Sultan Bekziyev, head of the Ministry of Health in the Republic of Karakalpakstan, told news website Daryo.uz that Nikos ‘hospitals were full of patients who had been injured in clashes with protesters’ security forces.
“Thousands of injured have been hospitalized and are being treated,” he said, according to the website.
Pictures of Nukus, published Sunday by another news website, Kun.uz, show heavy military presence, including roadblocks, burnt trucks and carriers of armored personnel carriers.
Videos shared on social media show at least two critically injured people being carried by arms and legs. One was bleeding from his stomach while the other was screaming.
Another showed a young man leaning down the street with a seemingly lifeless body, screaming “a man is dying” and then running for cover after being shot. Reuters could not immediately confirm the authenticity of the videos.
At least five people were killed, based on contacts with local sources and video evidence, Plat Ahunov, an exiled opposition politician, told Reuters. There are unconfirmed reports of dozens more deaths, he said.
Due to the state of emergency imposed by the authorities, people are unable to move around and get more information, Ahunov said.
Uzbekistan is tightly controlled by the former Soviet republic, where the government strictly controls any differences. This was the second unrest in Central Asia this year, when Kazakhstan crushed large-scale protests in January and Russia and other former Soviet republics sent troops to help restore order.
The protests in Uzbekistan were triggered by planned constitutional changes that would have stripped Karachi of its sovereign status. In turn, the president abandoned the plans on Saturday.
Ahanov, chairman of the opposition Berlusconi party, told Reuters from Sweden that he condemned the use of deadly force.
He said the authorities should have chosen to negotiate and negotiate from the beginning.
He said he feared the situation could escalate into an ethnic conflict between Uzbeks and Karakalpaks, a minority group with their own language. He added that authorities had called a public meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation.
Kazakhstan said it was concerned about what was happening in Uzbekistan and welcomed steps taken by authorities to stabilize the situation.
Steve Swardlow, an associate professor of human rights at the University of Southern California and a regional expert, said Uzbekistan should be as transparent as possible in declaring casualties and the use of force, and in the long run it should see to it that the heart What are my concerns? Of protest.