News ID: 302622
Published: 1246 GMT April 30, 2021

More than 30 killed, thousands displaced in Tajikistan border clash: Kyrgyzstan

More than 30 killed, thousands displaced in Tajikistan border clash: Kyrgyzstan

A file photo of Kyrgyz servicemen at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan said Friday that its death toll in armed clashes with Central Asian rival Tajikistan had reached 31 after the pair agreed a cease-fire following the heaviest clashes at their disputed border in years.

First Deputy Minister of Health and Social Development Aliza Soltonbekova said in a televised appearance that Kyrgyzstan had suffered over 150 casualties including 31 deaths since the violence began on Thursday, according to AFP.

A girl born in 2008 was among the casualties, it said.

Over ten thousand citizens had been evacuated from two districts bordering Tajikistan where the fighting had been most intense, Kyrgyzstan also said.

The government of Kyrgyzstan's Batken region – which borders Tajikistan – said the citizens had been "placed in specially organized points" in its administrative center, "or went to visit relatives".

Military units from the two countries began exchanging fire on Thursday, but later that day a cease-fire was announced by Kyrgyzstan's Foreign Ministry from 8:00 pm (1400 GMT), with armed forces returning to their bases.

Tajikistan acknowledged the cease-fire in a statement published by its state information service early on Friday, saying the two sides "came to a mutual agreement to end the armed conflict, to withdraw personnel and military equipment to places of permanent deployment".

A representative of the police in Kyrgyzstan's Batken region told AFP by telephone that shooting had continued during the night "but not intensively".

Shooting occurred "between both military units and civilians," he said.

The clashes that erupted along the border between the two poor, mountainous countries were the heaviest in years and had raised fears they might escalate into a wider conflict.

More than a third of their border is disputed, with the area surrounding the Tajik enclave of Vorukh, where Thursday's conflict erupted, a regular flashpoint over territorial claims and access to water.

Tajikistan made fewer statements as the clashes unfolded, noting only earlier on Thursday that two citizens had been admitted to hospital, with one in a serious condition.

Its security committee accused Kyrgyz soldiers of opening fire on Tajik troops at the Golovnaya water distribution point, located on the Isfara River.

It said Kyrgyz and Tajik civilians had become embroiled in a dispute over river infrastructure on Wednesday.

Border disagreements between the three countries that share the fertile Fergana Valley – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – stem from demarcations made during the Soviet era.





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