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Emergency declared in parts of Kyrgyzstan

  |   Jan. 15, 2013 at 10:55 AM
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A state of emergency has been declared in villages near the Sokh enclave in Kyrgyzstan following regional clashes, a local official said.

Zhenish Razkov, the head of the region, told Kyrgyz news agency 24.kg that a state of emergency was declared in parts of the area because Uzbek forces had blocked access to the region.

"These villages are suffering interruption of food and medication supply. Therefore, the government decided to impose emergency rule in these villages," he was quoted as saying. "But no confrontations between these villagers have been recorded."

Uzbek authorities blamed Kyrgyz border guards for escalating the crisis, saying they fired on residents protesting the installation of electricity towers. 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.

A brief hostage situation coincided with last week's security incidents. Security officials, however, said the situation is relatively stable.

The U.S. State Department said its special adviser for children's issues, Ambassador Susan Jacobs, arrived Monday in Kyrgyzstan to discuss adoption issues following a Russian ban. The department made no mention of the situation near Sokh.

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