Rioters attack government buildings in Kyrgyzstan
BY LEILA SARALAYEVA Associated Press
Thursday, October 04, 2012
10/04/12 at 4:31 AM
Protesters clashed with police and tried to break into a building housing the parliament and government offices in Kyrgyzstan's capital Wednesday during a rally to demand the resignation of the prime minister and other top officials.
Authorities in the Central Asian nation described the mass assault as an attempt to overthrow the government.
Police officers protecting government offices known as the White House used dogs and smoke bombs to disperse a group of young men who attempted to scale the gates.
The Health Ministry said 10 people were being treated for injuries, three of them for gunshot wounds. Officials said no police were injured.
About 1,000 people gathered in the center of the city for a rally, organized by nationalist politicians Sapar Zhaparov and Kamchibek Tashiyev, ostensibly to demand the nationalization of a controversial gold mine in the east of the nation. The Kumtor mine has been the source of a series of toxic spills in past years.
Some observers believe that opposition politicians may be using discontent over the mine as a smokescreen for a grab at power.
Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliyev said those responsible for the violence will be sought out and punished.
Kyrgyzstan, a country of 5 million people on China's mountainous western border, has come to prominence in recent years because it hosts a U.S. air base used to support military operations in nearby Afghanistan.
Kyrgyzstan is currently governed by a parliamentary coalition presided over by Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev.
Zhaparov and Tashiyev are members of a virulently nationalist opposition party, Ata-Zhurt, which draws the bulk of its support from the south of the country, which was the scene of deadly ethnic clashes in June 2010.
Ata-Zhurt is the largest party in the turbulent ex-Soviet republic's parliament, although it is not in the governing coalition.
Kyrgyzstan has seen the overthrow of two governments in its short history since gaining independence amid the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
President Askar Akayev was cast out of power in May 2005 after a weeks-long sit-in protest against corruption and misrule in the center of the capital.
Five years later, several dozen were shot dead by government troops when angry mobs attacked the presidential administration building in unrest that led to President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's ouster.
Original Print Headline: Riots erupt in Kyrgyzstan
Guards detain Kamchibek Tashiyev (center), surrounded by supporters, after he scaled a fence surrounding government headquarters in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. ABYLAY SARALAYEV/Associated Press