Ethnic violence has flared in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan leaving hundreds dead and thousands injured and many more have fled the country to avoid the carnage.

Despite pleas from the interim government in the country for peace keepers to be deployed, so far the world is standing by and watching as rape, torture and killings continue unabated.

According to the Economist magazine, the rampage involving Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks began in Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city, but the cause remains unclear although it could be drug related as Osh is a major transit point for Afghan heroin.

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Although atrocities appear to have been committed by both sides, the Kyrgyz quickly gained the upper hand. Uzbek houses have been looted and set on fire—plumes of smoke are visible for many miles around—women have reportedly been raped, and armed Kyrgyz gangs have been harassing and shooting at Uzbeks. Gas was shut off in much of Osh, as was electricity in some quarters. Shops have been ransacked and food has become scarce.

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Many ethnic Uzbeks, mostly women, children and the elderly, have fled the city to the nearby border with Uzbekistan, looking for safety. According to official Uzbek figures, 32,000 people have so far crossed the border and now live in make-shift tents.

Unofficially, at least 75,000 people are believed to have fled the country. An NGO based in Uzbekistan says that there are already more than 200,000 Uzbek refugees sheltering there says the Economist Magazine in their article.

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