Kyrgyz police use tear gas, water cannon to disperse protest

Kazakh law enforcement officers detain men during a rally of jailed politician Sadyr Zhaparov's supporters in central Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov

BISHKEK (Reuters) - Kyrgyz riot police used tear gas, stun grenades and water cannon to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters who approached the government headquarters in the capital Bishkek on Monday.

Some 2,000 protesters rallied on Bishkek's central square earlier in the day to demand the release of Sadyr Zhaparov, a former adviser to ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev. Zaparov was sentenced to 11-1/2 years in prison in 2017 for taking a government official hostage in 2013.

Some protesters also sought tougher measures to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

A few hours into the rally, about 1,000 protesters, mostly young men, started moving in the direction of the government headquarters.

Hundreds of policemen in full riot gear quickly blocked their path and used a water cannon, stun grenades and tear gas to scatter them. Police moved in a tight formation rhythmically banging batons against their shields.

The authorities have not said how many protesters have been detained in the confrontation.

(Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Peter Graff)

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