Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards have exchanged fire along a disputed segment of the border, in the latest outbreak of violence between the two neighbors following a similar clash that killed dozens last year.
Officials in northern Tajikistan said on January 27 that three Tajik border guards were hospitalized with injuries as the two Central Asian countries accused each other of blocking a road crossing the border.
There were no immediate reports of casualties on the Kyrgyz side.
Reports said clashes were still going on by late afternoon.
The chief of the border guard service in Kyrgyzstan’s southern Batken region, Kyyal Tolonbaev, told RFE/RL on January 27 that shots were heard coming from both sides hours after the Tajik side ‘unilaterally’ blocked the road crossing the disputed segment of the border in the area known as Tort-Kocho. Tolonbaev did not elaborate.
The Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security said earlier in the day that Tolonbaev and his subordinate, Colonel Rustam Mirshakirov, arrived in the Tort-Kocho area to bring the situation under control.
Meanwhile, Zubaidullo Shamodov, a spokesman for Tajikistan’s Isfara region, which borders Batken, told RFE/RL that the road was blocked by the Kyrgyz side.
Almost half of the 970-kilometer Kyrgyz-Tajik border has yet to be demarcated, leading to repeated tensions since the two countries gained independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union three decades ago.
Many border areas in Central Asia have been disputed since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan meet.
Last April, clashes that involved military personnel along the Tajik=Kyrgyz border left dozens of people dead on both sides.
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Washington DC 20036