6 Suspected Kyrgyz Extremists Arrested

Kyrgyz police arrested six men suspected of taking part in an uprising in neighboring Uzbekistan last year and seized 14 ounces of TNT from them, an official said Wednesday.

The police found the explosives during a search Tuesday in a house in the city of Osh and arrested its owner and five guests who are citizens of Uzbekistan, Osh police spokesman Zamirbek Sydykov said. Three of the suspects tried to escape but were caught, he said.

Sydykov said the six were suspected to have taken part in the uprising in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan in May 2005 that was brutally suppressed by government troops. The revolt was prompted by the trial of 23 businessmen on religious extremism charges that they denied.

The arrests in Osh came as authorities stepped up security in southern Kyrgyzstan following several shootouts between police and alleged Islamic extremists in the past two weeks, in which one police officer and five gunmen were killed, and four other people were wounded.

Authorities said the gunmen were Islamic radicals and were planning terrorist attacks in the volatile Fergana Valley, which straddles portions of southern Kyrgyzstan, eastern Uzbekistan and northern Tajikistan. All three are former Soviet republics.

Radical Islamic sentiment is widespread in the impoverished valley, which has been turbulent since the Andijan violence that left hundreds dead and last year's ouster of longtime Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev.