State of emergency in Kyrgyzstan as protest against Centerra turns violent

Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambayev declared Friday a state of emergency in the area around Kumtor mine, owned by Canadian Centerra Gold Inc. (TSX:CG), after clashes between riot police and protesters demanding the mine’s nationalization and more social benefits.

Around 2,000 people, some on horseback, stormed the mine’s premises Thursday night after police dispersed demonstrators who had been blocking the road to Kumtor for days and arrested 92 people.

That move sparked the larger protest, as thousands of locals began a march to call for the release of those detained, Reuters reports. A bus transporting security forces was set on fire.

In pictures: Kyrgyzstan gold mine protests by BBC News

The country's parliament has set June 1 as a deadline for the government to renegotiate – or revoke– a deal struck in 2009 with the Toronto-based company.

Centerra Gold is a significant employer and taxpayer in the Central Asian country and a key contributor to the Kyrgyz economy, with the Kumtor open pit gold mine accounting for 60% of the nation's industrial output

Image: Screenshot from KNews via Facebook