Clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces have killed 18 people in northwestern Uzbekistan, where the government has not tolerated any form of opposition, Uzbekistan’s public prosecutor said on Monday.
“Eighteen people died from injuries sustained during the great upheavals in Nukus,” deputy representative Abor Mamatov told the Ria Novosti news agency.
The National Guard of Uzbekistan said 243 people were injured in the protests.
The country’s President, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, on Sunday announced “disappearances” between civilians and police following Friday and Saturday protests against a constitutional reform bill that would reduce the autonomy of Karakalpakstan, a poor region of northwestern Uzbekistan, of which Nukus is its capital.
Uzbekistan declared a state of emergency for the region on Saturday. At the same time, Mirziyoyev promised to abandon the draft constitutional amendment.
The state of emergency came into effect at midnight on Sunday and is expected to last through August 2.
Mirziyoyev also accused the organizers of trying to “take control of official local government buildings” and seize weapons “by hiding behind political slogans”.
The reform made the republic of two million inhabitants officially forfeit its “sovereign” status and the right to hold a referendum on self-determination.
Spontaneous demonstrations are rare and considered illegal in Uzbekistan, which is the most populous country among the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, with a population of 35 million.