Kyrgyzstan’s interim government has given police and military forces shoot-to-kill orders in an extreme measure taken to halt the ethnic unrest in the south of the country.
A government decree on Saturday authorized lethal force to repel attacks against the authorities, stop the destruction of government and private property, and protect civilians, AFP reported.
The Kyrgyz government also partially mobilized the country’s military forces as the ethnically divided former Soviet republic is faced with mounting violence between Uzbek and Kyrgyz groups.
“If we do not take opportune and effective measures, the unrest could become much more serious and descend into a regional conflict,” warned a statement announcing the mobilization.
Clashes broke out in the main southern city of Osh overnight Thursday and into Friday when Kyrgyz and Uzbeks engaged in running street battles and set cars and buildings on fire, prompting the government to impose a curfew and state of emergency.
A second state of emergency was soon declared in the southern city of Jalalabad due to “spreading instability.”
Escalating violence, looting, and fighting have forced thousands of Uzbek women and children to flee their homes to the nearby border with Uzbekistan amid warnings of a humanitarian crisis in the Central Asian republic.
Earlier, interim President Roza Otunbayeva appealed to the Russian government to militarily intervene to quell the unrest that has left 75 people dead and over 1,000 injured in the past three days.
But Moscow ruled out sending troops into Kyrgyzstan, saying Russia did not yet “see the conditions” to participate in resolving what it described as an internal conflict.