Asia-Pacific

New clashes near southern Kyrgyz city of Osh

Kyrgyz soldiers conduct a patrol on the Uzbek side of the outskirts of Osh
Image caption The Kyrgyz authorities say they are attempting to flush out "militants"

At least one person has been killed in Kyrgyzstan as security forces clashed with ethnic Uzbeks near the troubled southern city of Osh, officials say.

A man was shot dead in Nariman as the authorities attempted to flush out "militants" behind the recent violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbek people.

Human rights activists said the troops had killed two people and injured 20.

Kyrgyzstan's interim leader has said as many as 2,000 people may have died in the fighting earlier this month.

Officials say at least 208 people were killed in fighting between Kyrgyz people and ethnic Uzbeks around Osh and Jalalabad.

But Roza Otunbayeva told a Russian newspaper on Friday that the real toll could be "10 times the official figures".

About 400,000 people have fled their homes since the violence erupted on 10 June, with many ethnic Uzbeks crossing into Uzbekistan.

Different accounts

Human rights workers say the latest incident occurred when government forces went on patrol in the Uzbek neighbourhood of Nariman.

"The military have been going around doing checks... and looking for weapons. A lot of people have been beaten up," Human Rights Watch researcher Ole Solvangwas was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Other activists allege the attack was in retaliation for the recent killing of a local police chief.

However, the Kyrgyz interim government said its soldiers had come under attack and a man was killed in an exchange of gunfire.

"The acts of the officer were justified," it said in a statement, adding that claims 20 people were injured did not "correspond to reality".

The unrest comes two months after the country's former president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was forced out of office.

Ms Otunbayeva's government has blamed the former leader for stoking the conflict ahead of a referendum on Sunday on constitutional reform that would give greater power to the prime minister.

Mr Bakiyev, who is in exile in Belarus, has rejected the allegations.

Ms Otunbayeva said on Monday that the referendum must go ahead as planned to "create a legal framework".

"If we allow any delays, this will threaten us with further instability," she said.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites