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Uzbekistan closes checkpoints on border with Kyrgyzstan

BISHKEK, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - Uzbekistan unilaterally closed a number of checkpoints on the border with Kyrgyzstan, the Kyrgyz Border Service said Monday.

A spokesman for the service said the Uzbek authorities were "conducting maintenance work" there but did not specify what he meant. He said the Kyrgyz authorities had not take any steps to close the border.

According to Kyrgyz media reports, Uzbekistan said it had closed the border crossings after an anthrax outbreak in its Central Asian neighbor had come to light. The media also said the move had led to some discontent, because Uzbeks were unable travel to markets in Kyrgyzstan.

Hundreds of people crossed the border into Kyrgyzstan following disturbances in May in Andijan, a city in eastern Uzbekistan. Troops put down the uprising, which resulted in an official death toll of 187, although human rights organizations said there were several hundred fatalities.

The UN later transferred some of the refugees in Kyrgyzstan to Romania.

Uzbek prosecutors said they had evidence that preparations for the riots had been conducted in southern Kyrgyzstan, but a deputy secretary of the Kyrgyz Security Council dismissed the statement.

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