The death toll in clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks which broke out overnight in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh has risen to seven, the deputy head of the interim government said.
Riots broke out in Osh on Thursday night, reportedly after a fight between locals and members of the city's Uzbek population. Groups of youths rampaged through the city, setting cars and buildings on fire and breaking shop windows.
"The clashes in Osh have a distinct inter-ethnic character and have been carefully orchestrated," Azimbek Beknazarov told Kyrgyz 24.kg news agency.
The interim government has declared a state of emergency and imposed a curfew in the city and its surrounding area. Troops and military vehicles have already entered the city.
"Clashes continue in the city, shooting can be heard and groups of youths with stones, sticks and iron rods can be seen in the streets. Some are armed," an eyewitness told RIA Novosti by phone.
According to the city's fire services several buildings in the city had been set ablaze during the night, including the city's philharmonic hall, an Uzbek theater, local television offices, and a shopping mall.
The press service of the republic's interior ministry said five people had been detained in connection with the riots.
"The situation in the city remains tense," the ministry said, adding that the districts populated by ethnic Uzbeks are "relatively calm and under control."
Central Asian news sit ferghana.ru earlier said the riots were not ethnically motivated.