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    Death toll in Kyrgyz clashes may near 2,000 - president

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    Interim President Roza Otunbayeva has put the death toll from violence in southern Kyrgyzstan at nearly 2,000, a Russian business daily said on Friday.

    Interim President Roza Otunbayeva has put the death toll from violence in southern Kyrgyzstan at nearly 2,000, a Russian business daily said on Friday.

    On Thursday, an unnamed source told RIA Novosti the ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan, which started on June 11, had claimed almost 1,800 lives. According to the latest official figures, at least 191 were killed and over 2,000 injured.

    "The losses are greater," Otunbayeva told Kommersant. "I would multiply the official figure by ten. This is because there were many families in rural areas, and in line with our customs, we usually bury [the dead] straight away, before sunset."

    Otunbayeva said there was a "massive exodus of refugees," but gave no exact figures.

    The Unites Nations said on Thursday about 400,000 people have been displaced by the unrest.

    Otunbayeva said that "the detonators of the Osh events were hirelings, professionals," hired by ousted president Kurmanbek Bakiyev and his son Maxim, who is wanted in Kyrgyzstan on terrorism and embezzlement charges.

    She said Maxim Bakiyev had bought weapons from unspecified Arab countries.

    Otunbayeva said the government would press ahead with the much-disputed referendum on a new constitution, slated for June 27, despite an almost country-wide state of emergency. She added that the situation in the county was stabilizing.

    On Thursday, the Kyrgyz interim government introduced new regulations under which the referendum could be canceled if the Central Asian republic remains in the state of emergency.

    Kyrgyzstan's interim government led by Roza Otunbayeva took power on April 7 after ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev fled the country.

     

    MOSCOW, June 18 (RIA Novosti)

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