August 8, 2019 - 18:14 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Police in Kyrgyzstan detained the Central Asian nation's ex-president Thursday, August 8 following violent clashes with his supporters, a day after a previous attempt to arrest him left one policeman dead and nearly 80 people injured, The Associated Press reports.
The violence has raised the threat of a new round of turmoil in the ex-Soviet nation, which borders China and hosts a Russian military air base. Kyrgyzstan's first two presidents after independence were both driven from office by riots.
Almazbek Atambayev, who was in office from 2011 to 2017, accused his successor and one-time protégé Sooronbai Jeenbekov of fabricating false criminal charges against him to stifle criticism. He urged his supporters to rally Thursday in the capital, Bishkek, to demand Jeenbekov's resignation.
The first attempt by police to arrest Atambayev at his residence outside the capital failed late Wednesday after his supporters rushed to his defense and clashed with police. A police officer later died of injuries at a hospital and 79 people were injured, according to official statements.
Atambayev's supporters took six policemen as hostages, but released them Thursday.
Shopping malls and other businesses shut down Thursday ahead of the planned rallies, reflecting fears of widespread looting that accompanied earlier violence.
But instead of rallying in the capital, Atambayev's supporters changed course and headed back to his countryside residence to fend off a new attempt to arrest him. However, thousands of police armed with water cannons and stun grenades eventually overwhelmed their resistance.