Hundreds of spectators stormed a sports field in Osh, Kyrgyzstan as a section of a crowd turned riotous at the annual President's Cup match of the traditional horse and goat carcass game of kok-boru.
With President Sadyr Japarov and Prosecutor-General Kurmankul Zulushev in attendance for the occasion, spectators chased match officials and smashed the windows of a Ford Transit vehicle operated by the local ambulance service. Stones and plastic bottles were thrown.
More than two dozen people were being held for questioning on violations of public order by police in Kyrgyzstan, Radio Azattyk reported on September 1. Seven people, including a law enforcement officer, were reportedly hospitalised as a result of the riot that took place when the game ended.
In kok-boru, the aim is to capture the goat's carcass, or ulak, before manoeuvring it on horseback into the opposing team's goal.
In local media reports, police indicated that some refereeing decisions appeared to have gotten someone’s goat, for want of a better expression.
Kamchybek Tashiev, chairman of the State Committee on National Security (SCNC), issued a statement during the evening after events at the Toleyken horse arena, saying an investigation into the clash had begun and that the guilty would be punished, adding: "Dear Kyrgyz people, don't get angry. We are bound to stay together. What will we answer in front of our young children who shed blood for Kyrgyz land and Kyrgyz people? Shall we say that we fought each other playing horse games?”
Though, officials appeared to blame events on a rowdy crowd responding to the game taking twists and turns that they did not agree with, some opposition lawmakers and activists made the case that the scenes were the result of unleashed tensions over the Japarov administration’s running of the country.
Civil activist Mavlyan Askarbekov was cited by Radio Azattyk as saying: "The president and the general prosecutor say that there are very big issues in a society where law enforcement officers are beaten and people rioted. Education and culture have been ignored for 30 years. Events showed that anyone can come and use the energy of society in the noise after a kok-boru game.”
Whatever the truth behind events, when the national security chief turns up for work on Monday morning, will there be a brave soul daring enough to inform him "You've goat mail"?
Alleged miscreants lined up in a police station corridor (Credit: screengrab, public domain).