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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 June, 2005, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
Uzbeks march to support Karimov
By Monica Whitlock
BBC News, Tashkent

Uzbek President Islam Karimov
Islam Karimov is under pressure after the killings last month
Thousands of demonstrators in Uzbekistan have held a rally in support of President Islam Karimov.

The rally in the city of Jizzakh was called to bolster the government after criticism of the killings in Andijan last month.

On 13 May, troops shot into a large crowd of people calling for justice and freedom, killing possibly hundreds.

The government says 170 people were killed, mostly members of an extremist Islamic sect.

Several key activists were also detained, and others put under house arrest.

On Thursday, a huge crowd filled the main square of Jizzakh, outside the mayor's office.

Many protesters waved portraits of President Karimov and shouted slogans against those who oppose him or question the government line.

One banner read "Human rights activists are enemies of the motherland".

A busload of government supporters travelled round the city, attacking human rights activists with sticks and vilifying them as traitors.

Jizzakh is a politically important city - the heart of the poor desert farming country in central Uzbekistan.

In March, 500 angry farmers there staged an anti-government protest, seizing a police station and burning two patrol cars.

These are extremely tense times in Uzbekistan. People are on edge, the long hot summer has begun and everyone is worried about how all this turbulence will end.


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