Mobs armed with guns, Molotov cocktails and pitchforks have seized several police stations in Uzbekistan and show no signs of stopping a weeklong frenzy of arson and murder, Soviet media reported Friday.
The death toll from the ethnic violence in the Fergana region of the Central Asian republic is nearing 80, and more than 800 people have been hurt, the government newspaper Izvestia said.It said the Central Asian republic's Communist Party chief called for "more decisive measures" to contain the unrest.
More than 9,000 internal security troops have been dispatched to try to quell the attacks, which began on June 3 and involve the ethnic Uzbeks and the Meskhi Turk minority.
In the city of Tashlak, "the wild mob, incited by extremists, tried several times to occupy an administration building and inflict reprisals on women and children of the Turkish nationality," the military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda said. "The hooligans used bottles filled with fuel, firearms, rocks, pitchforks and other objects."
In Kokand, about 1,500 miles southeast of Moscow, crowds occupied most of the police stations, the youth newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda said. Looters had seized three locomotives and were threatening to blow up railroad fuel tanks, according to the newspaper.
The official news agency Tass said some incidents occurred on Thursday, but did not specify which ones. The other reports gave no dates for the attacks, and they did not say if buildings were still being held.
Rioters are estimated to have set fire to more than 550 houses and nearly 300 vehicles, most of them belonging to ethnic Turks. About 300 people reportedly have been detained.
The violence is the latest in a series of ethnic disputes in the southern Soviet Union, where confrontations in the Caucasus region and in Central Asia have killed scores of people and left thousands homeless.
Speaking of the violence in Uzbekistan, Izvestia said: "The actions of the uncontrolled elements are becoming more aggressive."
"More and more often attacks are being made on buildings of the Interior Ministry and police. The goal is to seize weapons. The population is extremely agitated," it said.
Izvestia quoted Shavkat Yuldashev, the Fergana region's party chief, as saying: "Taking into account the serious nature of the situation, we don't have enough force yet for its stabilization. More decisive measures are needed."
Many of the Kokand "hooligans" arrived in the city of more than 150,000 in an organized column of cars from other parts of the cotton-growing valley, the newspaper Trud said.
A Meskhi Turk from Fergana, who was in Moscow on Friday to appeal for help from President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, said gangs of rioters, many speaking an unfamiliar dialect, had appeared in Fergana.