Uzbekistan Says 75,000 Refugees Fled Kyrgyzstan

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More than 75,000 Uzbek refugees have fled rising ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan and crossed the border into neighboring Uzbekistan, officials said Sunday, amid reports that Kyrgyz mobs were torching Uzbek villages and slaughtering their residents.

Most of the refugees were elderly people, women and children, and many had gunshot wounds, the Uzbek Emergencies Ministry said in a statement carried by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency. It said refugee camps were being set up for them in several areas of Uzbekistan.

Russia on Sunday also sent a battalion of paratroopers - about 300 people - to reinforce security at its air base in the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan, the Interfax news agency reported.

Kyrgyzstan's interim government had asked Russia for military help to quell the rioting, but the Kremlin refused Saturday.

Kyrgyzstan hosts both U.S. and Russian military air bases, but they are in the north, away from the ethnic rioting.

This program aired on June 13, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.