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Uzbekistan guarantees security to Kyrgyz nations held hostage in Sokh

January 07, 2013, 12:25 UTC+3

According to different estimates, at present up to 25 Kyrgyz citizens are held hostage

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BISHKEK, January 7 (Itar-Tass) — Kyrgyz citizens have been still kept hostage by local residents in Uzbekistan’s Sokh enclave located in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region, a source at the Kyrgyz Defence Council told Itar-Tass on Monday.

“All necessary measures are being taken to free our nationals,” the source said. The Uzbek side assured that it guarantees security to the Kyrgyz nationals kept hostage in the enclave.

“The state border service of our republic has conducted telephone talks with Uzbekistan’s border department,” the source said.

The commanders of the two countries’ border forces agreed to hold a meeting later in the day “to take joint measures to stabilize the situation.”

The head of the Interior Ministry of Uzbekistan’s Fergana region left for Sokh.

Border checkpoints around the enclave were temporarily closed to bring the situation back to normal. Witnesses say over 1,000 people have already gathered at checkpoints.

Kyrgyz Interior Minister Shamil Atakhanov also left for the conflict zone.

“The situation remains under control of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev,” the source said.

On Saturday several hundreds of residents in the village of Khushyar located in the enclave attacked Kyrgyz border guards, who were installing electric power supply to their outpost in Charbak.

“Our servicemen had to fire into air over aggressive attitude of Uzbek citizens and the use of physical force,” the source said.

As a result of the clashes several people were injured.

On Sunday residents of Khushyar entered Kyrgyzstan’s village of Charbak and took hostage several villagers. After the talks between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek authorities fourteen women and children were released on Monday.

According to different estimates, at present up to 25 Kyrgyz citizens are held hostage.

Uzbekistan’s enclave of Sokh is located in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region. Its population totals around 60,000, approximately 90 percent of them are ethnic Tajiks.

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