MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK: And I'm Melissa Block.

Now to signs of life today in Kyrgyzstan's second largest city, Osh. After days of ethnic violence, thousands of Uzbeks have left the city, fleeing gangs of armed Kyrgyz's. The remaining residents from both communities have been hiding indoors, waiting for the shooting to end. Well, today, many left their homes, looking for food, loved ones, or a way out of the devastated city.

From Osh, NPR's David Greene reports.

DAVID GREENE: After another tense night with the sound of explosions around the city, morning broke today and the people of Osh decided to emerge in force. But for many, it was only to begin a journey away from a city that is largely in ruins.

OXSANA: My name is Oxsana(ph), I am 26 years old.

GREENE: I found Oxsana Sliminova(ph) at a makeshift encampment near city hall. She, along with many others, was waiting for a bus to the airport and then a flight to the capitol, Bishkek.

OXSANA: If you go to Bishkek, can you take us with?

Unidentified Woman: Impossible, impossible.

GREENE: That's the sad reality here. Now, many Kyrgyz's are joining the tens of thousands of Uzbeks who fled from Osh and the surrounding region. But today's calmer atmosphere did offer many a chance to search for people lost. City officials are worried many ethnic Uzbek and Kyrgyz's are behind what you may call enemy lines in this ethnic conflict. City officials are actually encouraging hostage trades.

ALMAS AL: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: Almas Al-Kulif(ph) has a brother he believes is being held in an Uzbek neighborhood.

AL: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: We just now delivered peacefully some Uzbeks, he said. Ten, maybe 15 Uzbeks for one Kyrgyz. I sent 15 women in a bus after they promised to give back our brother, but they haven't.

(SOUNDBITE OF VEHICLE)

GREENE: Around Osh, the military presence seems to be growing. There are checkpoints all over town and armored vehicles patrol the still-littered streets. Sometimes, the vehicles speed past a neighborhood still in hiding, barricaded off by fallen trees. Like this small street I found after walking around a truck and through some bushes.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVERSATIONS)

GREENE: There were maybe two dozen people: Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Russian - chatting over tea, munching apples from their orchard, talking about how they remain scared. Despite this growing sense of calm, there are still reports of sniper attacks. Some Uzbek enclaves have been hit by gunfire in recent days.

BAKTIR SALIF VAMOFF: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: Here, it's defense with no weapons, at least that's what Baktir Salif Vamoff(ph) said. He's Uzbek and the leader of this tiny neighborhood of a few hundred people.

SALIF VAMOFF: (Speaking foreign language)

GREENE: When people approach our street, he said, if they are Kyrgyz, then we send our Kyrgyz neighbor to talk to them. They go there to sort of cover us Uzbeks. They explain to them, just go because we all live there together. But if Uzbeks come, then we go talk. Fro morning till night, he said, we stay here on duty, this is our street.

Salif Vamoff is Uzbek, his friend standing with him is Kyrgyz - Abdoumo Zhoudoshov(ph).

ABDOUMO ZHOUDOSHOV: Maybe during one month we see a rift between Kyrgyz and Uzbek, in this concrete street we don't lost, still we trust each other.

GREENE: Zhoudoshov said it will take years to reestablish that trust in other neighborhoods of the city.

ZHOUDOSHOV: Maybe two years, you know, to establish the trust between the people.

GREENE: And only then could this city truly feel normal again.

David Greene, NPR News, Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

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