A wave of violent clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbek ethnic groups in southern Kyrgyzstan has left at least 170 people dead in the impoverished Central Asian nation.
According to Kyrgyzstan’s AKI Press news agency, southern cities of Osh and Jalalabad remain extremely volatile after days of violence.
While as many as 170 people are believed to have been killed, reports said some 1,700 others have been wounded since the start of the violence on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan’s interim government has responded by sending more troops to the area to quell the clashes.
The ongoing conflict, which is believed to be the worst ethnic fighting in the region in the past 20 years, has forced tens of thousands of Uzbeks to flee their homes in Kyrgyzstan.
Rights groups have raised the alarm about an imminent humanitarian crisis in the region.
The UN Security Council has condemned the violence, calling for the restoration of law and order in the country.
However, the Kyrgyz interim government described the situation as being under control, rejecting calls for the presence of a peace-keeping force in the country.
Kyrgyz officials have also said that an upcoming referendum on the constitution and the parliamentary elections will be held as scheduled.
The latest tensions follow a revolt in April that overthrew former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, leaving the political situation in Kyrgyzstan shaky.