updated 5/30/2005 8:11:57 AM ET 2005-05-30T12:11:57

Police detained dozens of Uzbek opposition activists over the weekend in a fresh crackdown on dissent after this month’s uprising in eastern Uzbekistan, an opposition party leader said Monday.

Vasilya Inoyatova, the leader of the outlawed Unity Party, said at least 20 activists who had come to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, for a party meeting were detained Monday morning, and that other party members had been arrested earlier.

“Within the last two days, police have detained dozens of our party members, saying we are hiding terrorists involved in the recent uprising in the Fergana Valley,” Inoyatova said, referring to the eastern valley where the uprising occurred. Inoyatova told The Associated Press that her husband and 26-year-old son were among those arrested.

Separately, human rights activist Surat Ikramov said Monday that police were preventing him from leaving his home in Tashkent and that he had received calls from numerous other activists who either had been detained or were forcibly isolated in their homes.

The uprising erupted in the eastern city of Andijan on May 13, when militants overran a local prison and government headquarters and thousands of their supporters rallied in the streets. Uzbek authorities say 173 people were fatally injured, but deny police or soldiers opened fire at unarmed civilians.

Rights advocates say up to 750 people were killed in the violence. If the higher number is true, it would be one of the deadliest crackdowns on a street demonstration since the Chinese government cleared Tiananmen Square in 1989.

On Sunday, Inoyatova and representatives of three other outlawed opposition parties met three visiting U.S. senators — John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. and John Sununu, R-N.H. — who added their voices to Western calls for an international investigation into the bloodshed.

Authoritarian President Islam Karimov has rejected an international inquiry, saying Uzbek authorities would conduct their own review. He has blamed the unrest on Islamic extremists, accusing them of killing hostages and of using civilians as human shields.

The U.S. legislators said the Uzbek government’s harsh response to the unrest had made it difficult to maintain the relations the United States would like to have with its ally in the war on terror. Uzbekistan hosts hundreds of American troops at an air base near the border with Afghanistan.

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