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Kyrgyzstan leader says death toll may be 10 times higher
The interim leader of Kyrgyzstan, Roza Otunbayeva, says the death toll from ethnic clashes may be ten times higher than official figures during her first visit to the southern city of Osh. The official death toll is 192.
“It’s firstly because according to local tradition people pick up corpses immediately before the sun sets,” she said. “Secondly, people don’t want the corpses to be examined by the coroners. That hinders us from counting the exact number of victims. It’s not because people are trying to hide it. It’s the same for the number of refugees.”
During the visit, Otunbayeva stayed away from the city's devastated Uzbek areas, many of which were burned to the ground during clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and their Uzbek neighbours.
The World Health Organisation says that the crisis in Kyrgyzstan could affect up to one million people, including 300,000 refugees.
“There is a food shortage because there are no markets open,” Altin Kadirov of the French aid organisation Acted. “They are all burnt to ash. A few small shops are open and people are trying to buy food from them, but the prices are really high.”
He said some aid was getting through, but not enough.
Meanwhile, Russian troops will be deployed to guard some strategic sites in Kyrgyzstan, Otunbayeva said on national radio.