It's early afternoon and I've moved to a safe house in another part of Osh where a number of American aid workers have gathered. The drive here, in a word, was harrowing: gangs of men with clubs guarding road blocks fashioned from felled trees and torched cars; others trying to forcibly enter apartment complexes. It's unclear who is in charge of the city, but cannon fire can be heard from our vantage as well as helicopters patrolling overhead. An evacuation plan is being developed; I'll update with more as I can.
Update (2:00 AM, June 13, 2010) -- With help from local security forces and a commendable coordination effort from headquarters staff, our group has evacuated from Osh. We are safe now in a compound near Bishkek, but our thoughts remain with our Kyrgyz and Uzbek colleagues in the South. Tonight these families cope with interethnic violence that at last count had claimed close to 80 lives and wounded nearly 1,000 (see updates below).
|Inside our safe house, a barrier is erected to expel rocks and firebombs|
As we made our way to a helicopter today our convoy was met repeatedly with vigilantes brandishing everything from bows and arrows to Kalashnikovs. Later, aerial views of neighborhoods in flames and a skyline blackened with smoke suggested the death toll will rise much higher.
Postscript (July 1, 2010) -- After being removed temporarily at the request of the U.S. Peace Corps, this post has been republished.