England fan shot in Kyrgyzstan

ALMATY - An England football fan has been shot and injured in a bar in the Central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan in the run up to a World Cup qualifying game in neighbouring Kazakhstan, a British diplomat said on Thursday.

Up to 1,500 England supporters have travelled to Central Asia, a mainly Muslim region wedged between Iran, Afghanistan and Russia, ahead of the 2010 World Cup qualifier in the Kazakh city of Almaty between England and Kazakhstan on Saturday.

British Ambassador to Kazakhstan Paul Brummell told Reuters the England fan, whose name was not released, was on a trip to Kyrgyzstan, a country south of Kazakhstan, ahead of the match.

An unidentified attacker shot the fan in the leg in a bar in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on Tuesday after an argument, Brummell said. The nature of the argument was unclear.

The Briton was taken to hospital and later discharged.

Almaty, a Soviet built town on the foothills of the Tien-Shan mountains, appeared calm and orderly as the England fans continued to trickle in. Brummell said the overall security situation was stable ahead of the game.

The British embassy has posted a list of guidelines for fans travelling to Kazakhstan, a steppe nation populated by descendants of nomadic tribes that once roamed central Eurasia.

It includes advice such as: "Don't arrive at the ground drunk as you may be refused entry."