Uzbekistan president announces ‘fatalities’ during unrest

Uzbekistan president announces ‘fatalities’ during unrest

Uzbekistan’s president on Sunday announced fatalities among civilians and law enforcement personnel during protests in the country’s autonomous Karakalpakstan region, which has seen massive unrest over a planned constitutional reform.

“Unfortunately, there are fatalities among civilians and law enforcement officers,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev said Sunday during a speech in Karakalpakstan that was relayed by his press service on Telegram. He did not give any specific number or detail the cause of death.

Uzbekistan on Saturday decreed a month-long state of emergency in the impoverished western region where a large protest erupted Friday over proposed changes to the constitution that would have weakened the region’s status.

Mirziyoyev has since pledged to withdraw the amendments affecting the region from a draft constitution, which is expected to go to referendum in the coming months.

On Sunday, Mirziyoyev made a second visit to the region in two days.

“A group of people, hiding behind false slogans, won the trust of citizens, misled them, disobeyed the lawful demands of the authorities, caused chaos, and tried to seize the buildings of local government bodies,” he told local lawmakers.

“Several groups attempted to seize the buildings of the Nukus City Department of Internal Affairs and the Department of the National Guard in order to obtain weapons,” he claimed.

“Taking advantage of their numerical superiority, these men attacked law enforcement officers, severely beating them and inflicting severe injuries,” he added.

Karakalpakstan has seen significant internet outages since the draft amendments were published last week, stripping the region of its nominal “sovereign” status and its right to secede from Uzbekistan via popular referendum.

The area takes its name from the Karakalpak people.

They are well represented in cities such as Nukus, where the protest took place, but now constitute a minority in the western region of two million people.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French state-owned international news agency based in Paris. It is the world's oldest news agency, having been founded in 1835 as Havas.

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