BISHKEK. Kyrgyzstan's government commission members say the 21 Chinese citizens whose bodies were found in a burned bus on a roadside were victims of robbery and murder, not a traffic accident.
Deputy minister of interior affairs, Abdylda Suranchiev, told journalists at today's press conference that robbers stopped the Chinese bus near the village Sarybulak in the district Kochkor (in the mountainous Naryn region that borders with China) yesterday morning. He said they shot the passengers and driver, moved the bus off the road and then set it on fire in an attempt to cover up their crime. Suranchiev also said that forensic experts found machine-gun bullet cases in the bus.
Deputy prime minister, and minister of transportation and communication Kubanychbek Jumaliev told journalists that about 16 tickets were sold to the passengers of the bus by the Bishkek bus station. There were four Chinese drivers. The investigators suspect that there would be some more people aboard without tickets. So far, there were 21 bodies found. Most of the victims were ethnic Uyghur merchants from China.
Deputy general prosecutor, Rustambek Isayev told journalists that his office launched a criminal case in connection with the murder.
The Chinese embassy confirmed RFE/RL today that the bus was carrying Chinese citizens from the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek to Kashgar in China.
Kyrgyz foreign minister. Askar Aitmatov, received today the Chinese Ambassador to Bishkek, and said the Kyrgyz government will make sure to bring to justice those responsible the murder. Aitmatov sent his condolences to the Chinese foreign ministry over the tragedy.