World Bulletin/News Desk
A court in Kyrgyzstan on Friday charged three opposition nationalist members of parliament with attempting to stage a coup after they led a crowd which tried to storm government headquarters in a protest over a Canadian-owned gold mine.
The charges followed a protest on Wednesday during which demonstrators demanded that the state should nationalise the Kumtor gold mine, Kyrgyzstan's flagship venture with Canada's Centerra Gold Inc. The mine accounted for 12 percent of Kyrgyz GDP and over a half of all its exports in 2011.
Calls to nationalise Kumtor, the largest gold mine operated in Central Asia by a Western-based concern, risk scaring off potential investors needed to revive a shrinking economy.
The clashes between police and supporters of the opposition Ata Zhurt party in the former Soviet republic were the most violent in Bishkek, the capital, since the April 2010 revolt that ousted then-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev.
The three parliamentarians held responsible - Kamchibek Tashiyev, Sadyr Zhaparov and Talant Mamytov - were detained by security police on Thursday. If found guilty, their lawyers said they could face between 12 and 20 years in jail.
"The court ordered that all three be put into custody for two months," Ikramidin Aitkulov, Tashiyev's lawyer, told Reuters outside the district court in the centre of the Kyrgyz capital. "Then a trial will be held."
He said he believed the charges against his client were politically motivated. "Everything is being done to eliminate a political rival," he said. "Tashiyev's only task at that rally was to draw public attention to the problem of Kumtor."
Kyrgyzstan's Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev, who was appointed last month, visited the Kumtor gold mine on Monday and promised the venture would not be nationalised.
The assault on Kyrgyzstan's "White House", which houses the government and the parliament, rekindled north-south tension in the mainly Muslim Central Asian nation of 5.5 million, which borders China and hosts Russian and U.S. military air bases.
Ata Zhurt and its allies enjoy strong support in the poorer, ethnically mixed south where the grip of the central government remains tenuous.
On Friday, about 1,000 Ata Zhurt supporters protested for a second day in the main square of the southern city of Jalalabad, demanding the release of the three parliamentarians.
Dozens of protesters later set up traditional Kyrgyz "yurt" felt tents near the adjacent regional administration building to hold a round-the-clock protest.
In the evening, a group of women and male youths blocked the main motorway linking the country's north and south.
There were no reports of violence.
Since 2005, two presidents of Kyrgyzstan have been toppled after attacks on the same government building in Bishkek. The city of about one million residents was quiet on Friday evening.
Only about 50 Ata Zhurt supporters chanted "Freedom!" near the court. The small group was dwarfed by hundreds of policemen who cordoned off approaches to the building. More policemen with shields and truncheons took up positions in nearby side streets.
Tashiyev's lawyer Aitkulov called on Ata Zhurt supporters to abstain from violent actions.
Wednesday's rally began as a peaceful protest in favour of nationalising Kumtor. Under a Bakiyev-era contract drawn up in 2009 the Kyrgyz state is a 33 percent shareholder in Centerra.
Main opposition group Free Syrian Army clashed with regime forces in Aleppo on Friday.
Upcoming parliamentary polls will come amid an uptick in militant attacks in the northern and western parts of the country, which have also spilled over into Baghdad.
The United States had already said it would not grant a visa to Iran's proposed U.N. ambassador, citing the envoy's links to the 1979-1981 Tehran hostage crisis at the US embassy.
Former prime minister Ali Benflis came in second with 1.24 million votes (12.1 percent), followed by Abdelaziz Belaid with 343,624 votes (3.36 percent), according to Belaiz.
Of the 273 missing, most are children from a single high school on the outskirts of the South Korean capital of Seoul. Some parents were giving DNA swabs so rescuers can identify the corpses.
The magnitude 7.5 quake was centered in the western state of Guerrero, north of the beach resort of Acapulco
Boko Haram has not commented on Monday's mass abduction, but many fear the kidnapped teenagers could wind up as sex slaves.
Homs has since evolved into a symbol of the destructive nature of Syria's civil war, with many of its neighbourhoods levelled by army bombardment
4,000 residents and their 30,000 animals have been transferred 20 kilometers away from the area.
Israeli police said that the move has been taken upon an intelligence tipoff about Palestinian plans to stage demonstrations following the prayers.
Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia gave no details and Kiev has threatened to use force before to little effect.
President Moncef Marzouki declared Mount Chaambi a closed military zone two days ago, suggesting the possibility of a major offensive against militant refugees there.
Thursday's attack on the U.N. base at Bor, some 120 miles north of the capital of Juba, was blamed on locals who were seeking to punish the Nuer for the loss of Bentiu.
A boat in Indonesian Good Friday procession sank in the Gonzalu Strait in the country's east; Dozens of other boats were forced to turn around and pluck victims out of water.
Presidential hopefuls need to collect written endorsements from 25,000 eligible voters to be able to run for president, according to the newly-approved constitution.
73 men, 32 women and 11 children were murdered by Croatian Defense Council (CDC) forces on that tragic day of April 16, 1993.