16 Jun 2010

Uzbeks threaten to blow up Kyrgyzstan oil depot

10:34 pm on 16 June 2010

Ethnic Uzbeks in southern Kyrgyzstan are threatening to blow up an oil depot if the interim government tries to take it by force.

Officials have entered talks about gaining access to the site in Osh, the scene of deadly communal violence in the past week, the BBC reports.

The facility stores most of the petrol distributed in the region.

Meanwhile the United Nations says about a quarter of a million people in the region have fled their homes in the region and the death toll has reached 179.

The UN's High Commissioner for Refugees is mounting an emergency airlift of supplies for the thousands who have fled to neighbouring Uzbekistan.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it's impossible to give an exact figure, as some bodies have been buried without being counted, but according to its team on the ground in Kyrgyzstan, several hundred have been killed.

Uzbekistan has closed its borders, as it says it doesn't have accommodation for the refugees.

The United States is sending a top envoy, Robert Blake, to to gather information about the violence. Both the US and Russia have military bases in the central Asian nation.

President's son seeks UK asylum

Meanwhile, the BBC says it understands that Maxim Bakiyev, son of ousted Kyrgyz president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, flew to Farnborough airport, England, in a private plane on Sunday and immediately claimed asylum.

He was moved to a police facility where he will be held while the asylum request is being considered.

The interim Kyrgyzstan government accuses Mr Bakiyev of spending millions of dollars to finance the riots and has officially asked Britain to extradite him.