Large-scale protests appeared to overthrow the government of Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday and its president fled before an outbreak of mayhem and violence in the capital of Bishkek and elsewhere in the country, an important American ally in Central Asia. Government officials said at least 41 people had been killed in fighting between riot police officers and demonstrators.
While the opposition declared that it was forming its own government, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev left Bishkek in the presidential plane, though it was not clear whether he was leaving the country or heading to another Kyrgyz city. Earlier in the day, the police used live ammunition, tear gas and stun grenades against a crowd of thousands that massed in front of the presidential office in Bishkek, according to witness accounts.
Dinara Saginbayeva, a Kyrgyz health official, said in a telephone interview that at least 41 people had been killed, “but it could end up being much more.” She said more than 350 people had been wounded in Bishkek alone, with scores of others wounded in protests around the country.