JALAL-ABAD (Kyrgyzstan), May 26 Uzbekistan sent troops and armour to lock down a volatile border region on Tuesday following gunbattles and a suicide bombing that officials said left two people dead.

The suicide bombing in Uzbek city of Andijan was the second violent incident in 24 hours to occur in the restive Fergana Valley, coming after gunmen reportedly opened fire on an Uzbek police checkpoint overnight Monday.

“An unknown man carried out a suicide bombing on Fitrat Street in the town of Andijan, as a result of which one policeman died and several citizens were wounded,” the Uzbek prosecutor general's office said in a statement.

The prosecutor also referred to the attack overnight in Khanabad, near the border with Kyrgyzstan, which left a police officer and one of the assailants wounded.

“A group of two or three bandits launched an attack with an explosive device against a police post at the entrance to the city of Khanabad,” the prosecutor said.

Uzbekistan blamed the attack on a group of “two to three bandits” who crossed the border from neighbouring Kyrgyzstan.

Locals across the border in the Kyrgyz city of Jalal-abad said that troops and armoured vehicles began to pour into the area following an overnight explosion and gunbattle that rocked the small Uzbek city of Khanabad.

The explosion and ensuing automatic weapons fire, which awakened residents up to five kilometres away, evoked memories of the 2005 uprising that resulted in heavy civilian casualties in Andijan. “It sounded like we were in a warzone, but we did not understand the reason it was happening,” said 41-year-old Furkat Mamasadikov.—AFP

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