Eighteen people were killed and 243 injured during protests in Uzbekistan’s autonomous province of Karakalpakstan last week, Uzbek officials said on Monday – in the worst episode of violence in the Central Asian country in 17 years.
Security forces detained 516 people during the protests, which began over plans to reduce Karakalpakstan’s autonomy, but many of them have since been released, the National Guard’s press office said in a statement.
On Saturday, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev abandoned plans to amend the articles of the country’s constitution that refer to Karakalpakstan’s sovereignty and its right to secession. He also declared a month-long state of emergency in the northwestern province.
Authorities said protesters had marched through the provincial capital, Nukus, last Friday (1st) and tried to take over official government buildings.
According to the country’s Attorney General’s Office, 18 people died after sustaining “serious injuries” during the conflicts. The RIA news agency quoted the country’s National Guard and said the number consists of 14 civilians and four police officers.
Two exiled opposition politicians who were in contact with people at the demonstrations told Reuters they believed the real number of victims was much higher. It was not possible to establish a number independently.
Karakalpakstan – situated on the shores of the Aral Sea, a place marked by environmental disaster for decades – is home to the Karakalpaks, an ethnic minority whose language is different from Uzbek, although it is related.
Source: CNN Brasil