The Kyrgyzstan protests, in which government forces killed at least 17 rioters who tried to storm President Kurmanbek Bakiyev's office and other locations, highlights US reliance on a key air base supplying troops in Afghanistan war.
Protesters angry at rising prices, a crumbling economy, and the authoritarian leadership of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev took to the streets of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital, on Wednesday and tried to storm the presidential office and a number of other government installations.
The Kyrgyzstan protests also took place in other cities, and the Associated Press reports that at least 17 protesters have been killed and 180 wounded by government troops so far. Reuter's quoted a local official as saying the death toll could be as high as 50.
The instability highlights both Kyrgyzstan's vital role for the US war in Afghanistan and the compromises both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama have made to deal with an increasingly unsavory regime.
Critics of Mr. Bakiyev inside and outside of the country charge that US reliance on the Manas Air Base means that Bakiyev feels little pressure to make democratic reforms or hold free elections.