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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 October 2005, 19:39 GMT 20:39 UK
Uzbek victims testify at trial
By Ian MacWilliam
BBC News, Tashkent

Bodies in Andijan. File photo
The government is accused of hiding the truth about the unrest
As the trial of 15 alleged radical Muslims continues in Uzbekistan, the victims of unrest in the eastern town of Andijan have been giving testimony.

Their accounts generally agree with the government's version that it was an attempt to start an Islamic revolution.

But beyond the court analysts say there is great scepticism about that.

An ex-employee of the interior ministry told the BBC that hostages whom Tashkent says were killed by rebels were in fact killed by troops.

The Uzbek government says 187 people died in the shootings during the May unrest.

The former employee of the Uzbek ministry said that his ex-colleagues estimated that between 800 and 1,000 people were killed.

Alternative account

One of the Uzbek government's most serious charges against the insurgents is that they murdered the Andijan town prosecutor, who was taken hostage and died in subsequent fighting.

The government also says the insurgents killed dozens of other hostages who they used as human shields when trying to escape.

But the former employee of the interior ministry, which was responsible for internal security, cast doubt on the official version.

He told the BBC that his contacts within the ministry said the Andijan prosecutor had been in fact killed by a government sniper when troops opened fire on the insurgents.

He said the other hostages had been also killed by soldiers firing at the insurgents and unarmed protesters.

He added that the question of who shot the prosecutor and hostages could be answered by ballistics experts, who can determine which of the military's guns fired a particular bullet.

It would then be a simple matter to verify whether the gun concerned was being used by soldiers present in Andijan.

The former employee said that many interior ministry staff were deeply unhappy with the government's harsh response in Andijan.

The employee can't be identified for his own security.

The details provided by this source cannot be verified, as the Uzbek security forces won't speak openly about Andijan.

But they are consistent with the conclusions reported by a number of human rights groups.


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