At least one person was killed as Uzbek security forces fired today at protestors massed in the center of the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon.
The shooting comes after government officials had been negotiating with protestors in Andijon in the wake of earlier unrest the government said left nine people dead.
Protesters in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijon are demanding authorities release all people jailed on suspicion of belonging to an Islamic group known as Akramiya.
The government began negotiations earlier today with the protesters, who say they are holding a number of policemen hostage.
No agreement has yet been reached between the government and an unknown number of protesters occupying the regional administration building in Andijon.
Reports say 23 businessmen on trial for allegedly belonging to the outlawed Islamic group Akramiya have been freed. The defendants said the charges were politically and economically motivated. Now the protesters are demanding that the government free all of those jailed on suspicion of belonging to Akramiya.
Talking to RFE/RL's Uzbek Service from the occupied regional administration building, one of the protesters, Sharipjon Shakirov, says this is the only demand being put forward to the government.
"We have only one demand. They should release those guys who were imprisoned under slander, including [Akramiya founder] Akram Yuldoshev," Shakirov said.
Yuldoshev has been imprisoned for the past four years.
Shakirov said the government is refusing to meet the protesters' demand and that Uzbek Interior Minister Zakir Almatov instead offered them the chance to leave the country.
"They don't want to meet our demands. They said we should leave for another town, for example Osh [in Kyrgyzstan]," Shakirov said.
Some Protests Peaceful
Almatov began negotiations earlier today with the protesters, who say they are holding a number of policemen hostage.
Protests involving as many as several thousand people broke out in Andijon earlier this week. Until today, however, the demonstrations had been peaceful.
The troubles started today after rioters overnight stormed a military barracks, where they seized weapons before attacking a high security prison. They then moved on to occupy the administration building.
Uzbek state television described the chain of events: "On 13 May, between 0030 and 0100, a group of armed criminals carried out an attack on a police station and a military unit in the city of Andijon. Seizing scores of weapons, the bandits carried out an attack on a correctional labor colony and released a group of prisoners."
The protesters occupying the administrative building say they are family members of those imprisoned, although this cannot be independently confirmed.
Witnesses at the scene estimated the crowd in Andijon today numbered in the thousands.
The Uzbek government has ordered additional troops out in the streets. Uzbekistan's Foreign Ministry says authorities are in full control of the situation in Andijon. The press service of the Uzbek president's office says it has no intention of declaring an emergency situation.
Uzbek authorities have connected similar recent events to the banned Islamic group Hizb-ut Tahrir. That group has denied any involvement. Shakirov also said today's actions are not connected to that group.
Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan have all placed their security and border forces on heightened alert.
Center Of Resistance
Andijon has been a center of resistance for many years. Andijon and neighboring cities were the headquarters for movements that fought Tsarist armies and later Bolshevik troops. The legendary Bashmachi fighters, local people who fought for independence from the Soviet Union, set up their government in nearby Kokand before being expelled by the Red Army and carrying on their fight from the mountains in what is now southeastern Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
Since Uzbekistan became independent in late 1991, many of the current Islamic groups that oppose the Uzbek government have gathered support from the area around Andijon. Many of the leaders of these groups are from this region.
Andijon has a population of some 200,000. The city lies in the densely populated Ferghana Valley, the richest agricultural area in Central Asia, and is home to roughly one-third of Central Asia's entire population.
By Bruce Pannier and Gulnoza Saidazimova with contributions from RFE/RLs Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, and Tajik services