Uzbek army troops killed hundreds of unarmed people, including women and children, independent reporters and eyewitnesses said this week. The Uzbek government disputed those accounts, saying the troops killed only armed insurgents. The unrest began when a group of armed men stormed a prison in Andijan to free 23 businessmen accused of having ties to Islamic extremists. When residents of the town poured into the central square to demonstrate in support of the detainees, troops arrived and began shooting. Several reports said the soldiers were visibly drunk and were picking off the wounded. A State Department spokesman said the U.S. was “deeply disturbed” by the incident. Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic, is notorious for torturing political prisoners and trumping up charges of Islamic extremism.
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