The leader of a nationalist party that did better than expected during last month's election in Kyrgyzstan claimed Saturday that he was wounded in an assassination attempt.
Kamchibek Tashiyev, head of the Ata-Zhurt party, made the claim at a news conference in central Bishkek where he appeared with a bandage over one hand and several fingers covered in dried blood.
Tashiyev said his home in suburban Bishkek was attacked by about 50 men on Saturday and that he was beaten with the bottom of a handgun.
"Without asking or saying anything, those people started shooting in my direction and forced their way into my home," said Tashiyev, surrounded by a dozen of his bodyguards.
Kyrgyzstan's Security Service would not comment on Tashiyev's claim about an attack, and police were not immediately available.
However, the country's deputy prosecutor, Aibek Turgunbayev, told The Associated Press that Tashiyev may have been hurt in a "scuffle provoked by his bodyguards." The official said he could not confirm that the politician had been targeted in an attack by outsiders.
Kyrgyzstan hosts a U.S. air base vital to the Afghan war effort, and Tashiyev has spoken out strongly against it.
On Oct. 11, his Ata-Zhurt party unexpectedly finished first in a parliamentary election, but government officials have not officially confirmed and endorsed the election results yet.
In the ballot, this Central Asian nation voted to elect a new and empowered parliament with the right to approve a government and appoint a prime minister. The vote came after an exhausting year of political turbulence and ethnic violence in the south.
Tashiyev claimed Saturday that he was attacked in an assault orchestrated by Keneshbek Dushenbayev, chairman of the country's National Security Service, and that the goal was to undermine the election results.
Sadyr Zhaparov, an Ata-Zhurt party member, told reporters that he arrived at Tashiyev's home after the politician had called him and saw unidentified men shooting in the air. Zhaparov said Tashiyev's bodyguards seized from some of the attackers' firearms and IDs that showed they were National Security Service employees. However, Zhaparov did not produce any weapons or the IDs at his news conference.
In April, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in violent public demonstrations over stagnant living standards and corruption in Kyrgyzstan. Clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and minority Uzbeks in the south of the country in June left more than 400 people dead, most of them Uzbeks, and displaced around 400,000 people.
Associated Press Writer Nataliya Vasilyeva contributed to this report from Moscow.