Learned analysts have long insisted that Uzbekistan was a bastion of Islamic moderation. I have responded the way I always do: by asking how these moderates counter jihadist recruitment. The response: silence or abuse. But it looks as if the answer these learned analysts did not want to give was: they don’t, and they can’t — except by force of arms. Another update on the Muslim Uzbek riots, from CNN:
ANDIJAN, Uzbekistan — The death toll from a crackdown by Uzbekistan security forces is mounting amid reports that unrest has spread from Andijan to at least three other towns.
More than 700 people reportedly have been killed in clashes last week in the region bordering Kyrgyzstan, The Associated Press reported Monday.
The unrest, which began Thursday, is the worst since Uzbekistan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Uzbek government, which witnesses say has fired on demonstrators in affected areas, blames Islamic extremists for inciting the violence.
Saidjahon Zaynabitdinov, head of the local Appeal human rights advocacy group, said Monday that government troops had killed about 200 demonstrators Saturday in Pakhtabad, about 20 miles northeast of Andijan, AP reported.
That violence would have come a day after about 500 people reportedly were killed in Andijan — Uzbekistan’s fourth-largest city — when government troops put down a prison uprising by alleged Islamic militants and citizens protesting dismal economic conditions.
Andijan remained tense on Monday after gunfire continued throughout the night, AP said.
“The people now are more afraid of government troops than of any so-called militants,” Zaynabitdinov told Associated Press Television News.
In a separate clash Sunday in the border town of Teshiktosh, eight soldiers and three civilians were killed and hundreds of Uzbeks fled into neighboring Kyrgyzstan, according to witnesses.
In another border community, Korasuv, an estimated 5,000 people went on a rampage Saturday and forced authorities to restore a bridge across a river that marks the border with Kyrgyzstan, AP reported.
United Nations relief experts were dispatched along the border to assess the needs of refugees, although there did not appear to be a mass exodus from the region into Kyrgyzstan.
On Saturday, a U.N. official said 528 people from Uzbekistan crossed the border into the Jalal-Abad area of Kyrgyzstan.
The roads leading from Andijan appeared to be blocked by Uzbek troops Sunday…
UPDATE: The presence of jihadists in Uzbekistan, which is still disputed by some, does not justify the brutal and bloody response of the Karimov regime. Uzbeks are between a rock and a hard place. My condolences to the victims.