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    01 March 2021 Monday

    Kyrgyz Opposition Seizes Control, Akayev Vanishes

    BISHKEK - Kyrgyzstan's opposition seemed to have seized control of the Central Asian country on Thursday after days of violent protest, but there was no word on the whereabouts of President Askar Akayev, the man it wants to oust. Thousands of protesters were repelled in their first bid to enter the heavily defended White House -- the seat of government. But, on their second attempt, security forces moved out of the way and let them in.

    One protester could be seen waving a flag from the second floor. Above, another protester tossed documents out to the cheering crowd of thousands below. The square nearby was splattered with pools of blood.

    "This is a popular revolution and the power is in the hands of the people, we don't fear anyone any more," said Askat Dukenbayev, a professor from the local American University.

    At least 30 people were reported injured in the clashes with pro-Akayev supporters in Bishkek, a city of 800,000.

    Rumours flew that Akayev had fled the mountainous country which appears likely to become the third former Soviet state in two years to see its entrenched leadership fall to popular protest after disputed elections, following Ukraine and Georgia.

    Felix Kulov -- an opposition leader freed from jail earlier in the day by opposition protesters -- denied media reports that quoted him as saying Akayev had resigned.

    "Akayev's resignation will come when we find him," he told Reuters.

    But while the hunt continued for Akayev, Prime Minister Nikolai Tanayev tendered his resignation, a spokesman for former Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev, another opposition leader, told Reuters.

    "The president has left in an unknown direction, the prime minister has filed his resignation," spokesman Sergei Benisovich said. "That's why Bakiev has taken full responsibility for anything happening in the republic."

    Many demonstrators wore pink and yellow arm bands which are rapidly becoming the colors of anti-Akayev protest -- much as orange was the campaign color in Ukraine and the red rose the symbol of the opposition in Georgia.

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