Bodies littered the streets of the southern Kyrgyzstan city of Osh where fresh gunfire rang out, and more fighting was reported in the nearby city of Jalalabad. The official death toll from the ethnic violence is 124 but the Red Cross estimates the real toll to be far higher.
With estimates of up to 100,000 refugees already inside Uzbekistan, the Central Asian state’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Aripov said the border would be shut, despite pleas from aid groups and the UN to leave it open.
“Today we will stop accepting refugees from the Kyrgyz side because we have no place to accommodate them and no capacity to cope with them,” he said.
Uzbekistan needed international humanitarian aid to cope, he said.
“If we have the ability to help them and to treat them of course we will open the border” again, he added.
Mr Aripov said Uzbekistan had registered 45,000 adults from Kyrgyzstan, while another official said there were 65,000 adults in Uzbekistan’s Andijan region alone. The UN’s refugee agency said it was sending aid for 75,000.
Ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks have flooded into Uzbekistan in the four days of bloodshed around Osh and Jalalabad, which has left more than 120 people dead and 1,762 wounded.
The violence exploded on Friday in Osh when ethnic Kyrgyz gangs began attacking the shops and homes of ethnic Uzbeks, igniting tensions between the two dominant groups in the region that have simmered for a generation.
The unrest comes barely two months after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was overthrown in a popular uprising. Mr Bakiyev’s stronghold is in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Ethnic Uzbeks have accused government forces of helping Kyrgyz mobs in their deadly rampage.
Charred corpses lay unattended in a burned out ethnic Uzbek shop in Osh and the streets were strewn with shell cases and wrecked cars.
Intermittent gunfire could be heard and new violence was reported further north in Jalalabad.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has urged Kyrgyz authorities to act firmly.
“It seems indiscriminate killings, including of children, and rapes have been taking place on the basis of ethnicity.”
The violence appeared to have been “orchestrated, targeted and well-planned,” she added.
She urged both Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to accept refugees.