Uzbek, Kyrgyz hostage crisis ends

Jan. 7, 2013 at 12:36 PM

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- A border security official in Kyrgyzstan said a hostage situation in an Uzbek enclave ended Monday following tense negotiations.

Iskender Mambetaliev, the chief of staff for Kyrgyzstan's border security guard, said a number of Kyrgyz citizens were released from the Uzbek district of Sokh following talks with Uzbek authorities.

"During (Sunday's) illegal actions by the citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan, dozens of our citizens were captured," he was quoted by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty as saying. Twenty citizens were freed following the talks.

Several Kyrgyz citizens were taken hostage following clashes between Uzbek residents in Sokh and border guards. The Uzbek side blamed Kyrgyz border guards for escalating the crisis, saying they fired on residents protesting the installation of electricity towers, RFE/RL adds.

Mambetaliev said an early examination of the freed hostages suggests some of them were abused while in custody.

"They sustained hematomas, bruises and other sorts of wounds," he was quoted as saying.

The Sokh district is surrounded by the southern Kyrgyz province of Batken. The region has been a source of tension between the Uzbek and Kyrgyz governments for more than a decade.

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