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Ethnic tensions simmer in Kyrgyzstan

BATKEN, Kyrgyzstan, June 1 (UPI) -- Hundreds of Uzbek security forces were sent to an Uzbek enclave in Kyrgyzstan as protesters demanded protection for Kyrgyz inhabitants, security forces said.

Security forces in Uzbekistan sent police and military troops to the Uzbek enclave of Sokh in Kyrgyzstan to greet area protesters, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

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Hundreds of residents in the enclave, one of the largest Uzbek enclaves in Kyrgyzstan, blocked a main highway to Uzbekistan to call for security for Kyrgyz citizens.

The protesters said several cars belonging to Kyrgyz citizens were damaged in the area in recent days.

Uzbek authorities closed the border with Kyrgyzstan following the April uprising that removed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev from power.

Interim leaders in Bishkek said scores of people were injured or dead during ethnic clashes in the south of the country. Thousands of backers of the ousted president have protested in the south in recent weeks, calling for justice against leaders of the Uzbek community.

Bakiyev supporters blame ethnic Uzbeks for inciting unrest. Ethnic clashes erupted when Kyrgyz authorities stopped letting Sokh resident use regional pastures.

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