Hotel Guards Fire on Protesters in Kyrgyzstan

Guards outside a hotel opened fire on hundreds of traders who had come to the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh on Monday to demand fair market practices, police said. Four people were hurt.

About 300 people, mostly women, came from the border town of Kara-Suu to demonstrate against an Osh-based lawmaker, Bayaman Erkinbayev (search), who is affiliated with the market in their town. They were confronted by a crowd of about 200 people outside the Alay Hotel, believed to be owned by Erkinbayev, when guards opened fire.

A spokesman for the Osh regional police, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity, said it was not clear why the guards had started shooting. He said police had seen at least two guards armed with assault rifles.

Police closed off the area around the hotel and said order had been restored.

Erkinbayev, a key figure behind the March protests that overthrew the regime of President Askar Akayev (search), runs businesses in southern Kyrgyzstan (search). He is well known for his achievements as a wrestler.

He was shot and wounded by unknown assailants in April. He claimed the attack was linked to his plans at the time to run for president in July, but prosecutors said the assailant wasn't likely to have had political motives.