More than 75,000 Uzbek refugees have fled the rising ethnic violence in neighboring Kyrgyzstan, officials said Sunday, amid reports of Kyrgyz mobs torching Uzbek villages and slaughtering their residents.
Most of the refugees are elderly people, women and children and many have gunshot wounds, the Uzbek Emergencies Ministry said Sunday in a statement carried by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency. It said refugee camps were being set up for them in several areas of Uzbekistan.
Russia on Sunday also sent a battalion of paratroopers — about 300 people — to reinforce security at its air base in Kyrgyzstan, the Interfax news agency reported. Kyrgyzstan's interim government asked Russia for military help to quell the rioting, but the Kremlin refused on Saturday.
Kyrgyzstan hosts both U.S. and Russian military air bases, but they are in the north, away from the ethnic rioting.