BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- Troops with truncheons and tear gas beat back protesters who stormed government headquarters yesterday in the biggest disturbance in Kyrgyzstan since its longtime president was ousted in March.
The protesters said they were supporters of a candidate denied registration for the July 10 presidential election. But interim President Kurmanbek Bakiyev accused ousted president Askar Akayev of funding the disorder in the Central Asian country.
The Interior Ministry troops regained control of the building about an hour after a crowd of about 2,000 forced its way through a gate.
Up to 100 Interior Ministry troops carrying riot shields and truncheons sealed off entrances to the building that was stormed. They then started advancing on the crowd outside the building, beating their shields and causing protesters to break and run.
The Health Ministry said 39 people were injured, 12 of them hospitalized. Bakiyev said 10 police and Interior Ministry officers were injured when they were hit by stones.
Police later detained 300 suspected participants and were interrogating them, the Interfax news agency reported late yesterday, citing the Interior Ministry press service.
Next month's election was called after a March 24 uprising in the former Soviet republic forced Akayev to flee.
Acting Interior Minister Murat Sutalinov accused would-be candidate Urmat Baryktabasov of organizing the unrest, a charge denied by his party. Election officials say his registration was denied because Kyrgyz officials had proof he was a citizen of neighboring Kazakhstan.
Tuigunali Abdraimov, chairman of the Central Election Commission, showed reporters Kazakh government documents saying Baryktabasov had received Kazakh citizenship in August 2003.
A spokeswoman for Baryktabasov's political party, Bermet Turduniyazova, said that neither Baryktabasov nor the party was involved in the storming of the building.
Seven candidates have been registered to take part in the election, including Bakiyev, the front-runner. Bakiyev struck a deal that upon his election, former security chief Felix Kulov will become prime minister.