I was just about to head off to bed when I got a tip from an NGO worker in Uzbekistan that about 100 gunmen have seized a prison in Andijon, killing guards and freeing prisoners. The BBC is also reporting that the gunmen attacked a military garrison, driving off soldiers.
The CBC reports that the local administrative buildings may have been seized, that no one knows who is in charge, and that a theater has been burned down. They put the number of prisoners released at 2,000.
There’s very little information beyond that at the moment, but I will have it as I am able to post it. I am trying to get updates from people in the country and I should mention that Dee Warren lives in Andijon, though given the situation, she may be unlikely to post anything. Keep an eye on Larry Tweed too, who is just over the border in Kyrgyzstan.
Though the protests in Andijon have been peaceful for the last few days and it is impossible to definitely say that a group of the protesters were involved in these attacks, it’s not unreasonable to think there might be a connection. There was something that made me uneasy about the separation of men and women at the protests and that so many people would show up for what seemed to have been a run-of-the-mill case.
Update: I should point out this recent BBC story in which protesters were talking about the importance of peaceful protests. The gunmen could have been from the protesters or they could be militants taking advantage of the situation (some of those violent schismatics from the ranks of Hizb ut-Tahrir perhaps?). It’s too soon to be sure of anything.