Uzbekistan says 18 dead in Nukus unrest

July 4, 2022 GMT

MOSCOW (AP) — Uzbek authorities said Monday 14 civilians and four police were killed in mass unrest that erupted in the capital of the Karakalpakstan over a proposed new constitution that would strip the region of its right to vote on secession.

Rustam Dzhurayev, commander of the National Guard for the region, said that 243 people were injured in the clashes Friday and Saturday in the city of Nukus. He said 516 people were arrested.

After the outbreak of violence, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev ordered that clauses allowing the region to conduct a referendum on secession be restored to the proposed new constitution.

Karakalpakstan is a sprawling, mostly desert region that makes up Uzbekistan’s northwest. The region borders the Aral Sea, which has mostly dried up due to Soviet-era projects to divert rivers feeding the sea in order to irrigate cotton fields; the shrinkage resulted in heavy storms of dust laden with chemicals.