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Last Updated: Friday, 2 November 2007, 09:58 GMT
Uzbek reporter killing condemned
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
A US rights groups has urged a thorough inquiry into the killing of outspoken Uzbek journalist Alisher Saipov, amid widespread condemnation of the murder.

The 26-year-old, a well-known critic of Uzbekistan's leader Islam Karimov, was shot in Kyrgyzstan last week.

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists said there should be an "unbiased, professional investigation".

A Kyrgyz official said last week that Uzbek agents may have been involved in the murder.

Mr Saipov was shot three times in the head as he walked out of his office in Osh, near the border with Uzbekistan, last Wednesday.

'Deplorable' incident

Delegates from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said they had met the Kyrgyz ambassador to the US and expressed concern over the investigation.

They said Kyrgyz authorities should consider the theory that he was killed, possibly by Uzbek agents, "simply because he was pursuing truth".

Map of Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyz police say they have identified the killers and are searching for them.

The EU has condemned the killing as "deplorable".

"The EU urges the Kyrgyz authorities to hold an immediate and thorough investigation into the death of Mr Saipov, arrest the perpetrators of this act and bring them to justice," it said in a statement.

The offices of Mr Saipov's newspaper, Siyosat (Politics), were sealed by Kyrgyz police last week, and computers and mobile phones were seized.

Officials said the material they contained was needed for the murder investigation.

But his colleagues and friends said they feared his contacts database would be passed on to the Uzbek intelligence services and used to identify and target other critics of the government.

Mr Saipov was one of the few journalists willing to criticise the Uzbek government.

The BBC's Central Asia correspondent, Natalia Antelava, says most independent journalists and human rights workers have been imprisoned or fled Uzbekistan.

SEE ALSO
Uzbek reporter's contacts seized
27 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Outspoken Uzbek reporter killed
25 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Uzbekistan
29 Aug 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Kyrgyzstan
24 Oct 07 |  Country profiles

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