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37 killed in Kyrgyzstan clashes

By Maxim Tkachenko, CNN
Factions argue in the streets of Osh, Kyrgyzstan, on Friday, where violence has left at least 37 people dead.
Factions argue in the streets of Osh, Kyrgyzstan, on Friday, where violence has left at least 37 people dead.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Casualty numbers continue to rise, with at least 37 people killed, official says
  • Rioters set fire to a number of businesses and government buildings
  • Extra army and police units have been dispatched

(CNN) -- At least 37 people were killed and more than 500 suffered various injuries as a result of the latest violence in the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan, a health official told CNN on Friday.

Speaking from the capital, Bishkek, the nation's health official, Dinara Sagynbayeva, said casualty numbers have been rising during the day and are not final.

"Roughly half of those killed and injured have bullet wounds and the other half have injuries apparently made by some hard objects such as clubs, metal rods and rocks," Sagynbayeva said.

According to local media reports, clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek youth groups began late Thursday night in Osh, the country's second-largest city, and the clashes developed into mass riots.

Rioters set fire to a number of businesses and government buildings, and there was looting and widespread acts of vandalism, Kyrgyz officials said. The rioting lasted throughout the night and most of Friday morning, the officials said.

Law enforcement officials said order had been largely restored in Osh, but local journalists reported that sporadic gunfire could still be heard in the city and the situation was far from stable.

Extra army and police units have been dispatched, a state of emergency has been declared and a 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew has been imposed in several districts of southern Kyrgyzstan until June 20, the government announced.

In a written statement issued Friday, Roza Otunbayeva, the country's interim president, said interethnic tensions in the southern areas of the country have been brewing for several weeks.