Official: Kyrgyz president leaves Kazakhstan

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — The deposed president of Kyrgyzstan left Kazakhstan on Monday, ending four days of refuge in the country after he was driven from power in a violent uprising, a Kazakh official said.

Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov told The Associated Press he didn't know where Bakiyev was headed.

"He's left Kazakhstan — there are no details on his planned destination," Omarov said by telephone from the Kazakh capital, Astana.

Bakiyev's departure from Kyrgyzstan was seen as reducing the possibility that a civil war could break out between his supporters and backers of the opposition figures who declared themselves the interim government. But tensions in the impoverished country remain high.

On the outskirts of Bishkek, the capital, hundreds of young men armed with sticks and metal bars rampaged through a village Monday, beating residents and burning several houses, and the Health Ministry said at least two people were killed and 11 injured. The Interior Ministry said dozens of arrests were made before the situation was brought under control

It was unclear what set off the rampage, but witnesses said the men were seeking to seize arable land. The village, Mayevka, is populated largely by Meskhetian Turks, descendants of an ethnic group deported from Soviet Georgia in 1944.

Also Monday, unidentified attackers tried to seize the main police station in the southern city of Jalal-Abad and were driven off by police fire, the Interior Ministry said.

The authoritarian leader of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, said Sunday that Bakiyev would be welcome in his country, which could exacerbate Belarus' tensions with the West as well as its difficult relations with neighboring Russia.

Another possible destination is the United Arab Emirates, where Bakiyev is thought to own property.

Bakiyev left Kyrgyzstan for Kazakhstan on Thursday after he was driven from power in a bloody revolt.

Some observers have suggested Russia played a role in Bakiyev's downfall, angry that he backed off his promise last year to evict the United States from its air base in Kyrgyzstan; Russia also has a base in the former Soviet Central Asian nation.

Both the United States and Russia were involved in the deal under which Bakiyev was allowed to fly to Kazakhstan. But none of those countries have expressed approval of him, and the arrangement appeared aimed largely at pulling Kyrgyzstan back from violence and even civil war.

At least 83 people died when an April 7 protest rally in the Kyrgyz capital exploded into gunfire and protesters stormed government buildings. Bakiyev fled to his native village in the country's south, where he tried to marshal support to resist the opposition figures who declared themselves the country's interim leaders.

Bakiyev left for Kazakhstan hours after he fled a rally of supporters amid gunfire that witnesses said came from his guards, who apparently were spooked by an approaching group of protesters.


Associated Press Writer Leila Saralayeva in Bishkek contributed to this report.