The White House released a statement Thursday calling for "calm" in the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan, whose government was overthrown this week.

Opposition protesters Wednesday drove the Kyrgyz president from the capital of Bishkek amidst widespread unrest. A transitional government, led by a former foreign minister, has been installed and says it will rule for six months.


In a statement, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that President Barack Obama is "closely following" the situation with his national security team. Gibbs urged "calm" in the country, but did not take sides between the opposition government and the deposed president, who has refused to resign.

Street violence as a result of the protests has left 68 people dead and over 400 wounded, according to the New York Times.

"We urge that calm be restored to Bishkek and other affected areas in a manner consistent with democratic principles and with respect for human rights," Gibbs said in a statement. "We deplore the use of deadly force by some of the security services against the demonstrators and by some demonstrators and continue to be concerned by ongoing looting and disorder. The United States looks forward to continuing our productive relationship with the people of Kyrgyzstan and the renewal of Kyrgyzstan’s democratic path.” 

The situation is a sensitive one for the U.S. American forces use an air force base in Kyrgyzstan to ferry troops and supplies to units fighting in Afghanistan.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) expressed worry on Thursday that the base would be compromised as a result of the domestic upheaval there. 

But the opposition leader has said that the U.S. pathway to Afghanistan will not be immediately affected.