Anti-Centerra Kyrgyz protesters seize regional administration

Reuters News
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Posted: May 31, 2013 9:34 AM

BISHKEK (Reuters) - Opposition protesters seized the regional administration building in the town of Jalalabad in southern Kyrgyzstan on Friday, pressing the central government to tear up its deal with Centerra Gold and free a jailed parliamentarian.

The action occurred several hours after crowds of demonstrators clashed with police in the north of the country after blocking the only road leading to Toronto-based Centerra's flagship gold mine, Kumtor.

Following the clashes, Kyrgyzstan's government imposed a state of emergency on the district of Dzhety Oguz, where Kumtor, Kyrgyzstan's biggest gold deposit, is located.

In Jalalabad, which saw ethnic clashes in June 2010, a crowd broke into the building which houses the regional governor's office, a witness told Reuters by telephone from the scene.

Kyrgyzstan's government said in a statement only a few opposition protesters were in the building. It threatened to use force if they did not leave voluntarily.

A police officer in Jalalabad said the protesters demanded the release of parliamentary deputy Kamchibek Tashiyev, who was sentenced to 18 months in jail in March for attempting to seize power by force.

(Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Angus MacSwan)