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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 October 2007, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Uzbek reporter's contacts seized
By Natalia Antelava
BBC Central Asia correspondent

A person holds a portrait of murdered journalist Alisher Saipov outside the Kyrgyz interior ministry in Bishkek (26 October 2007)
Alisher Saipov believed he was safe in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz security services have seized a contacts database belonging to murdered Uzbek journalist Alisher Saipov.

The 26-year-old was shot dead by an unidentified gunman as he walked out of his office in the city of Osh, near the border with Uzbekistan, on Wednesday.

Saipov was one of the most outspoken journalists in Central Asia and was well-known for his harsh criticism of Uzbekistan's President, Islam Karimov.

A Kyrgyz official has said Uzbek agents may have been involved in the murder.

Ombudsman Tursunbay Bakir Uulu said that according to reports received by Kyrgyz security officials, a "special service" of the neighbouring republic had been ordered to kill the journalist.

Offices sealed

The offices of Saipov's newspaper, Siyosat (Politics), have been sealed by Kyrgyz police and computers and mobile phones have been seized.

Map of Kyrgyzstan
Officials say the material they contain is needed for the murder investigation.

But Saipov's colleagues and friends say they fear his contacts database will be passed on to the Uzbek intelligence services and used to identify and target other critics of the government.

On Wednesday night, an unknown gunman fired three bullets into the journalist's head and chest in the centre of Osh, where he lived.

Kyrgyzstan's President, Kurmanbek Bakiev, has come under pressure to find the killer and many believe Uzbekistan may have been involved.

Saipov reported extensively on human rights abuses in Uzbekistan.

He was one of the few journalists willing to criticise the Uzbek government after most independent journalists and human rights workers were imprisoned or fled the country.

SEE ALSO
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