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Kyrgyz police detain 100 at rally for jailed politician

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Kyrgyz riot police break up demonstrators during a rally of supporters of nationalist politician Sadyr Japarov in downtown Bishkek on March 2, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Police in Kyrgyzstan have broken up a demonstration in support of a jailed opposition politician and detained around 100 protesters.

Police officers held around 100 people after the rally, by supporters of nationalist politician Sadyr Japarov in the capital Bishkek, descended into clashes, said interior ministry spokesman Bakyt Seitov.

"We will work until morning to filter through the detained. It is possible that some of them were just passers-by," Seitov told AFP.

Kyrgyz police scuffle with demonstrators during a rally of supporters of nationalist politician Sadyr Japarov in downtown Bishkek on March 2, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Ex-MP Japarov is serving a 10-year sentence after a court in the Central Asian country convicted him of taking a former regional governor hostage during a rally to nationalize a key gold mine.

He condemned his trial as politically-motivated.

Police began to break up the rally, in a central square, at around 6:00 p.m. (1200 GMT), using water cannon and stun grenades after the crowd of more than 1,000 people began to move towards the main seat of government.

Kyrgyz riot police break up demonstrators during a rally of supporters of nationalist politician Sadyr Japarov in downtown Bishkek on March 2, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Police said they had previously warned the demonstrators to disperse.

Protesters hurled stones at police as they ran from the square and witnesses said they saw police make several arrests.

An AFP correspondent said the area where the clashes took place was quiet by 7:00 p.m. as traffic resumed along the city's main thoroughfare.

Bishkek's Ala-Too Square, where Japarov's supporters gathered, was the site of two uprisings that toppled successive presidents in 2005 and 2010.

Supporters of nationalist politician Sadyr Japarov rally at Bishkek's Ala-Too Square calling for the authorities to release him, on March 2, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

Muslim-majority Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished country of six million people, looks to Russia to bolster its security and China for trade and investment.

The mountainous country's economy is heavily dependent on the output of a single gold mine along with agricultural exports.

(Source: AFP)


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