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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 02:21 GMT 03:21 UK
Outspoken Uzbek reporter killed
By Natalia Antelava
BBC Central Asia correspondent

Alisher Saipov
Saipov believed he was safe in Kyrgyzstan
A prominent journalist and an editor of an Uzbek-language newspaper has been shot dead in the Kyrgyz city of Osh near the border with Uzbekistan.

Police have confirmed that 26-year-old Alisher Saipov died in a gun attack.

Police say that they are questioning witnesses and that for now, they have no other details.

Saipov edited was the region's only Uzbek language publication which challenged the government, and reported for the Voice of America.

He was shot dead as he walked out of his office in the centre of Osh.

It was around seven in the evening and still light when unidentified gunmen fired from a car, killing him with three bullets.

At twenty-six, Alisher Saipov was one of the most outspoken journalists in central Asia.

His reports for Voice of America and various websites have always focused on Uzbekistan.

He was passionate about telling the story of one of the world's most repressive states.

He wrote extensively about torture in Uzbek President Islam Karimov's prisons, about the clampdown on dissent and the plight of the Uzbek refugees living in Kyrgyzstan.

Map of Kyrgyzstan

He was also critical of the Kyrgyz authorities, which he said have allowed President Karimov's influence to spread beyond the borders of Uzbekistan.

Over the past two years, Mr Saipov's investigations has helped to reveal that ethnic Uzbeks were the targets of the cross-border security sweep and that the security services were behind the kidnapping of dozens of asylum seekers and refugees.

Recently, the pages of his newspaper Siyosat, or Politics, have been full of stories about the climate of fear ahead of this December's presidential vote, in which President Karimov will seek re-election.

Just two days before he was shot dead, Alisher Saipov told his friends that he thought he was being followed by Uzbek security services.

But he always said he believed he would be safe on the Kyrgyz side of the border.

Whoever is behind this murder, they have proved him wrong.

SEE ALSO
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06 Mar 06 |  Asia-Pacific
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16 May 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Islam Karimov
17 May 05 |  Asia-Pacific
Kyrgyz police hold 'Andijan six'
20 Jul 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Popular Kyrgyz imam shot dead
07 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Uzbekistan
29 Aug 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Kyrgyzstan
24 Oct 07 |  Country profiles

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