The interim government of Kyrgyzstan has declared a state of emergency in the southern city of Jalalabad after two people died in clashes.
Shots were fired as police tried to stop ethnic Kyrgyz protesters from storming an Uzbek university.
Gunfire broke out as protesters approached the building, reports said, but it is not clear who fired the shots.
Later, groups of Uzbeks and Kyrgyz armed with sticks and clubs were said to be gathering near the central square in Jalalabad.
The head of the interim government, Roza Otunbayeva, said: "We condemn all attempts to foment violence and sow the seeds of political discord among our people, especially between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz."
Her government later blamed "pro-Bakiyev forces" for instigating the clashes.
There has been hostility between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks before in southern Kyrgyzstan. Several hundred people were killed in 1990 as the Soviet Union broke up.
The Uzbek militia there have been arming themselves recently - this is prime water-war territory where Kyrgyzstan controls most of the water flows to the other countries. Uzbekistan is very thirsty (and very wasteful of water with poor irrigation techniques) but Kyrgyzstan wants to build a dam and use more of the water for themselves.
a little background from a paper I was editing not too long ago...
"One of the key findings of the report Water Resources of Kazakhstan in the new millennium, prepared with the assistance of the UN, shows that the scarcity of water in the region is projected to increase, putting at risk efforts to create sustainable development, not only in terms of Kazakhstan, but throughout Central Asia as a whole.
The region is split between the downstream countries, such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which are dependent on water flowing from,the sources in the states of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Recent events in the region may have far-reaching implications, especially with Kyrgyzstan effectively controlling the Syr Darya River Basin and Tajikistan controlling the Amu Darya."