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Bishkek nabs 15 snipers from coup

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BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, June 7 (UPI) -- Authorities in Bishkek announced Monday they arrested 15 alleged snipers involved in killing opposition demonstrators during an April coup.

Ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled his safe-haven in southern Kyrgyzstan to Belarus in April after an opposition movement overthrew his government.

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Azimbek Beknazarov, deputy chairman of the interim government in Bishkek, said authorities arrested 15 people thought to have opened fire on opposition supporters, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Kyrgyz bureau reports.

Interim leaders in Bishkek in early May called for the extradition of Bakiyev, saying he is charged with murder and abuse of power.

The deputy chairman said authorities have completed 80 percent of the investigations into Bakiyev and his family.

The ousted president in an interview with Russia's state-run news agency RIA Novosti in May said the claims against him are "absolutely groundless."

Thousands of backers of Bakiyev 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.

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