Eighteen killed and more than 200 injured during rare unrest in Uzbekistan

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Eighteen killed and more than 200 injured during rare unrest in Uzbekistan
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Eighteen people have died in the worst clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in Uzbekistan for years.

The country's National Guard confirmed that 243 others were wounded during the weekend unrest in the province of Karakalpakstan.

Protests had broken out after President Shavkat Mirziyoyev dropped plans to amend articles of the constitution concerning Karakalpakstan's autonomy and its right to secede.

Mirziyoyev has also declared a month-long state of emergency in the poor northwestern province.

Uzbek authorities said on Monday that 516 people were arrested during demonstrations on Friday, but many have now been released.

Mirziyoyev has accused the organisers of the protests of "hiding behind political slogans" to try and "take control of official local government buildings" and seize weapons.

Since it declared independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, Uzbekistan has never allowed any opposition to emerge.

After his re-election last year, Mirziyoyev has also aimed to reform the country's constitution to stay in power longer.

The European Union, which has encouraged Uzbekistan's recent reform efforts, has called for a "transparent and independent investigation" and regretted "the loss of life".

It noted that the President had renounced the controversial amendments, but called on him to "guarantee human rights".

Russia also said that it was closely monitoring in Karakalpakstan province and stated that  the situation there should be solved through "legal means" rather than "street riots".

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