Uzbekistan: may riots in Andijan caused millions in damages

Nearly two dozen Uzbek business owners testified Thursday that they suffered millions of dollars (euros) in damages during riots in the eastern city of Andijan.

The 20 owners, speaking during the criminal trial of 15 men charged with participating in the demonstrations, said property damage ranged from burnt or smashed cars to a theater building that was set ablaze during the May 13 protest that was brutally put down by government troops.

Theater owner Zhavron Toikhujayev said he had suffered 3 billion som (US$3 million; Ђ2.5 million) worth of damages and said the government had compensated him for about a third of that.

Rights groups say government troops killed at least 750 people in the crackdown on a protest that was triggered by rights abuses and poverty. The government blames the unrest on alleged Islamic militants and puts the death toll at 187, the AP reports.

The revolt followed weeks of peaceful protests during the trial of 23 Andijan businessmen accused of Islamic extremism. It culminated in an attack on a prison to free them and the seizure of a government building. Thousands of supporters then demonstrated in Andijan's main square. AM

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