April 6, 2010 / 10:20 AM / 9 years ago

Kyrgyz protesters storm local government office

BISHKEK (Reuters) - A group of Kyrgyz protesters took over a regional government office during a rally in the north-western city of Talas on Tuesday, witnesses said.

Tatty Jumanaliyev, a local human rights activist, told Reuters from the scene the crowd broke into the government headquarters building after thousands of people gathered on the main city square during a protest.

“They got into the building. It’s been completely taken over,” he said, adding that police did nothing to stop them.

Gulbara Imankulova, a press freedom campaigner also at the protest, said a separate crowd was headed towards a local police headquarters to free a group of activists detained during a separate rally on Monday.

Discontent in the volatile Central Asian nation has been on the rise due to what the opposition says is growing public frustration with President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s government.

Possible unrest in Kyrgyzstan is of particular concern to Washington which uses its air base there as a key transit point for its troops fighting the Taliban in nearby Afghanistan.

Opposition leader Omurbek Tekebayev confirmed the storming in Talas, a small town on Kyrgyzstan’s border with Kazakhstan.

“Some of them got inside the building to express their discontent,” Tekebayev told reporters in the capital Bishkek.

Kyrgyz police could not be reached for comment. No one at the Talas government office was picking up the telephone.

Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Maria Golovnina

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