Uzbeks Flee Ethnic Violence

Article excerpt

Byline: Anvar Ilyasov and Sasha Merkushev Associated Press Writers

JALAL-KUDUK, Uzbekistan -- Standing behind barbed wire with other Uzbek refugees, the woman tearfully raised her hands in a Muslim prayer for her dead husband. She had left his body at their burned-down house in Kyrgyzstan while fleeing ethnic riots that reduced much of a major city to ruins.

"He's lying there unburied," lamented the woman, who identified herself only as Khadicha, a doctor in her 50s, as she waited Monday in a no man's land to cross into Uzbekistan.

She is among tens of thousands of minority Uzbeks who have fled the deadliest violence Kyrgyzstan has seen since the two ethnic groups fought over land 20 years ago as Moscow lost its grip on the former Soviet republic in Central Asia.

In the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh, three miles from the border with Uzbekistan, gunfire pierced the air and fires raged for a fourth day. Officials said 138 people were killed and nearly 1,800 wounded since the violence began last week, but an Uzbek community leader said at least 200 Uzbeks had already been buried, and many bodies had not been recovered from charred homes and businesses. …