Facebook Twitter



Local police have allowed roving bands of armed youths to rampage through cities in Uzbekistan and attack minority Turks and their homes, according to news reports Saturday.

Officials said at least 80 people have been killed in the week of violence in the Central Asian republic. The number of deaths was expected to rise as security forces searched through the rubble of hundreds of burned-out homes. One report said about 1,000 people have been injured.Col. Gen. Y.V. Shatalin of the Interior Ministry told Soviet television that a group of 5,000 "extremist youth" appeared in the city of Kokand Friday afternoon and attacked government office buildings and Meskhi Turk neighborhoods.

"For the first time, we saw a great number of automatic firearms carried by the attackers," he said.

Soviet Interior Minister Vadim Bakatin said the inability of the local police to protect the Turks was "shameful," according to the newspaper Sovietskaya Kultura.

Uzbekistan Interior Minister D. Usatov accused police of looking the other way, another news report said.

"The attacks of the extremists are more frequently taking on the character of organized military action," said the government newspaper Izvestia.

Bakatin and other officials blamed the rioting on outside agitators who they said went to the Fergana region of the Uzbekistan in trucks and buses. The area is about 1,650 miles southeast of Moscow.

Soviet television's evening news program "Vremya" reported Saturday that several thousand youths armed with knives, axes and clubs drove around Kokand in stolen vehicles. It said they carried out attacks that left 86 houses in flames, 11 people dead and 121 injured. A videotape showed burning houses and overturned cars.

The Vremya correspondent said the figures were for a two-day period but he did not say what the days were or if the death toll was in addition to the 80 previously reported.

Authorities said at least 9,000 security officers have been dispatched to stop the violence. Sovietskaya Kultura quoted Shatalin as saying soldiers had not fired on the mobs.

The Communist Party newspaper Pravda said at least one local police officer was among the dead.

The fighting began June 3 between ethnic Uzbeks and members of the Meskhi Turk minority, who were forcibly resettled in 1944 in the Fergana Valley by the late dictator Josef Stalin.