Uzbekistan has decreed a month-long state of emergency in the region where a large protest erupted over proposed changes to the constitution that would have weakened the region's autonomous status.

President Mirziyoyev says that several groups attempted to seize the buildings of the Nukus City Department of Internal Affairs and the Department of the National Guard in order to obtain weapons.
President Mirziyoyev says that several groups attempted to seize the buildings of the Nukus City Department of Internal Affairs and the Department of the National Guard in order to obtain weapons. (Twitter/@UzbekForum)

Uzbekistan's president has announced fatalities among civilians and law enforcement personnel during protests in the country's autonomous Karakalpakstan region, which has seen massive unrest over a planned constitutional reform.

"Unfortunately, there are fatalities among civilians and law enforcement officers," Shavkat Mirziyoyev said on Sunday during a speech in Karakalpakstan that was relayed by his press service on Telegram. 

He did not give any specific number or detail the cause of death.

"A group of people, hiding behind false slogans, won the trust of citizens, misled them, disobeyed the lawful demands of the authorities, caused chaos, and tried to seize the buildings of local government bodies," Mirziyoyev told local lawmakers.

He claimed that several groups attempted to seize the buildings of the Nukus City Department of Internal Affairs and the Department of the National Guard in order to obtain weapons.

"Taking advantage of their numerical superiority, these men attacked law enforcement officers, severely beating them and inflicting severe injuries," Mirziyoyev added.

State of emergency

Uzbekistan on Saturday decreed a month-long state of emergency in the impoverished western region where a large protest erupted on Friday over proposed changes to the constitution that would have weakened the region's status.

Mirziyoyev has since pledged to withdraw the amendments affecting the region from a draft constitution, which is expected to go to referendum in the coming months.

On Sunday, Mirziyoyev made a second visit to the region in two days.

Karakalpakstan has seen significant internet outages since the draft amendments were published last week, stripping the region of its nominal "sovereign" status and its right to secede from Uzbekistan via popular referendum.

The area takes its name from the Turkic Karakalpak people.

They are well represented in cities such as Nukus, where the protest took place, but now constitute a minority in the western region of two million people.

READ MORE: Uzbekistan declares state of emergency in Karakalpakstan

Source: TRTWorld and agencies