Thousands of soldiers and police have been sent to the Central Asian republic of Kirghizia, where the death toll in ethnic warfare between Kirghiz and Uzbeks has climbed to 78, Tass reported Friday.
Also Friday, more than 3,000 Kirghiz youths gathered in the republic's capital of Frunze and demanded to be allowed to go to Osh, a frontier town 195 miles south of the capital where the fighting broke out Monday over a land dispute, a Soviet Interior Ministry spokesman said.He said dozens of Uzbeks had crossed the border into Kirghizia and clashed with Kirghiz. One person was killed and another 33 were injured in that fight, he said.
"The number of dead as a result of the clashes between Kirghiz and Uzbeks who live there has reached 78," Tass, the official Soviet news agency, quoted Col. Felix Kulov as saying.
He said 330 people have been injured in the fighting since Monday.
The area is closed to Western correspondents, and official accounts of the unrest and the death toll have been sketchy.
Tass said thousands of police and soldiers have been sent in to the region. On Thursday, Interior Minister Vadim Bakatin told lawmakers in Moscow that 1,500 soldiers, 900 police and Interior Ministry troops and 450 border guards were in Kirghizia to quell the fighting.