Kyrgyzstan’s interim leader said on Saturday that the Central Asian state had requested that Russia send peacekeepers to help stop violence in the south of the country.
Roza Otunbayeva’s comments came after she had spoken by phone to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin late on Friday.
At least 50 people have been killed and hundreds injured in continuing inter-ethnic violence that began in southern Kyrgyzstan’s city of Osh on Thursday evening. Hospitals are unable to feed the injured and refugees, mainly Uzbek women and children, are heading for the border with Uzbekistan.
“The situation has gotten out of control since yesterday evening and we need outside military forces to arrest the situation,” Otunbayeva said.
“In connection with this, we are turning to Russia,” she went on.
Osh was the stronghold of former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who was overthrown following violent street protests in early April.
The interim government has declared a state of emergency and deployed troops to the region.
"We're clearly talking about a stand-off between two ethnicities. We need to… calm these people down, and this is what we are doing right now,” Otunbayeva said earlier.
Medics have been unable to reach many of the injured people due to the fighting.
“Our doctors practically didn’t go out on calls at night because they were afraid,” Osh’s top doctor was quoted by the 24 kg news agency as saying.
He also added that those doctors that had attempted to reach the injured had been attacked.
The UN has appealed for calm and has called on Kyrgyzstan's interim government to "pay particular attention to inter-ethnic relations in the country."
Both Russia and the U.S. have military bases in the former Soviet republic, which many experts fear may now be on the brink of civil war.
BISHKEK, June 12 (RIA Novosti)