There are reports the government of the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan has been overthrown after a day of bloodshed and amid reports that key regime officials have been killed, taken hostage or fled the country.
Opposition leaders say the government has resigned after more than 100 people were killed in running battles with security forces who opened fire on crowds with machine guns.
In other cities, government buildings were overrun and riot police fled.
Kyrgyzstan’s president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, has fled the capital Bishkek.
Unrest has been growing in Kyrgyzstan along with discontent with the rule of Mr Bakiyev, whose regime was widely seen as corrupt and was accused of routinely violating human rights.
Earlier officials said at least 40 people died in the capital Bishkek as protesters stormed government and TV offices. More than 400 were injured and television pictures showed security forces firing machine guns into crowds of protesters as running gun battles raged throughout the city centre.
Kyrgyz opposition leader Roza Otunbayeva has called for Mr Bakiyev to resign and says she plans to run an interim government for six months to draft a new constitution.
Opposition leaders have now been released from custody, satisfying one of the demands of the anti-government protesters.
Prime minister Daniyar Usenov has reportedly resigned. There were rumours Mr Bakiyev might be in neighbouring Kazakhstan but they cannot be confirmed.
Earlier a police source said interior minister Moldomus Kongantiyev had been killed in the north-west hub of Talas where the first protests erupted.
Mr Kongantiyev was attacked by protesters who had also taken deputy prime minister Akylbek Zhaparov captive, the Kabar Kyrgyz state news agency reported.
The BBC is reporting that an interim government has been set up, headed by Roza Otunbayeva, the opposition’s foreign affairs spokeswoman.
The opposition has taken control of at least one television channel.
A Kyrgyz human rights activist said on the channel that several regional administrations had been seized and their governors had resigned.
None of the claims on the broadcasts can be independently confirmed.
In Talas, in western Kyrgyzstan, police fled the city and protesters have ransacked government buildings.
Protests against Mr Bakiyev’s heavy-handed rule began last month and boiled over when several leading members of the opposition were arrested.
United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has joined representatives of other international organisations in calling for calm in Kyrgyzstan.
Neighbouring Kazakhstan, which currently holds the chair of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, called on the government and opposition to show political will and wisdom to resolve their differences.
Earlier, the United States, which has an air base in Kyrgyzstan which supports US-led military operations in Afghanistan, expressed grave concern while Russia also called for restraint.