Rioters attack government buildings in Kyrgyzstan

Associated Press Published: October 3, 2012

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — Protesters clashed with police and tried to break into a building housing the parliament and government offices in Kyrgyzstan's capital Wednesday during a rally to demand the resignation of the prime minister and other top officials.

Authorities in the Central Asian nation described the mass assault as an attempt to overthrow the government.

Police officers protecting government offices known as the White House used dogs and smoke bombs to disperse a group of young men who attempted to scale the gates.

The Health Ministry said 10 people are being treated for injuries, three of them for gunshot wounds. Officials said no police were injured.

Around 1,000 people gathered in the center of the city for a rally, organized by nationalist politicians Sapar Zhaparov and Kamchibek Tashiyev, ostensibly to demand the nationalization of a controversial gold mine in the east of the nation.

Interior Minister Zarylbek Rysaliyev said those responsible for the violence will be sought out and punished.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 5 million people on China's mountainous western border, has come to prominence in recent years because it hosts a U.S. air base used to support military operations in nearby Afghanistan.

Kyrgyzstan is currently governed by a parliamentary coalition presided over by Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev.

Zhaparov and Tashiyev are members of a virulently nationalist opposition party, Ata-Zhurt, which draws the bulk of its support from the south of the country, which was the scene of deadly ethnic clashes in June 2010.

Ata-Zhurt is the largest party in the turbulent ex-Sovet republic's parliament, although it is not in the governing coalition.

A lawyer acting for Tashiyev, who was one of a group of people that scaled the White House gates, said the parliamentary deputy is facing charges of attempting to violently overthrow the government.

Prosecutors said last month that they are pursuing criminal charges against Zhaparov on suspicion of fraud. Zhaparov denies he has been involved in any financial wrongdoing and says the investigations are politically motivated.

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