Kyrgyzstan arrested 20 people over their suspected role in ethnic clashes, officials said today, as the military cleared makeshift barricades from Uzbek areas in the ravaged city of Osh.
The removal of the barricades happened without incident, despite fears it could reignite the violence in the south of the Central Asian country that has left up to 2,000 dead and forced 400,000 from their homes.
"All of the barricades have been lifted in the centre of the city. Main roads and streets are open to traffic," a police spokesman said after the army moved in following a 6:00 pm (1200 GMT) deadline for them to be removed.
"Only a few barricades on small streets, dead ends and on the outskirts of the city remain."
The spokesman said police would not use force to remove the remaining barricades in Osh, one of the cities worst hit by the bloodshed, because "that would do nothing but inflame the situation".
Uzbek residents in some areas even helped pull down the roadblocks, quelling fears of fresh outbreaks of last week's deadly inter-ethnic clashes between the majority Kyrgyz and minority Uzbek populations.
Armoured vehicles pushed aside burnt-out cars, concrete pillars and felled trees that were set up outside Uzbek districts during the violence.
"Of course we are afraid. But we will not put the barricades back if it stays calm. Life must return to normal at some point," said 64-year-old resident Salizhan Numanzhanov, whose brother was killed in the unrest.
Tensions had not evaporated however, and some residents said they feared the unrest would return.
In Osh "a special operation" was launched today to seize weapons that have not been handed in voluntarily by its residents, interior ministry spokesman Bakit Seitov told journalists.
Investigators also launched 90 enquiries for murder, arson and kidnappings, he said.
"Twenty people suspected of crimes in the incidents in Osh have been arrested," said Seitov.