World, Asia - Pacific

At least 39 dead in clashes along Kyrgyz-Tajik border

Following 2 days of border clashes, neighboring Central Asian states agree to full cease-fire

Jeyhun Aliyev and Gozde Bayar   | 30.04.2021
At least 39 dead in clashes along Kyrgyz-Tajik border

ANKARA

At least 39 people were killed – including a 13-year-old girl – and 134 wounded in two days of clashes along a disputed section of the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border, said the Kyrgyz Health Ministry on Friday.

Some 25 injured people were taken from Kyrgyzstan's southwestern Batken region to the capital Bishkek by special plane and hospitalized, including two in critical condition, said the statement.

The ministry added that the number of Kyrgyz people who died in the armed conflict rose to 31.

Kyrgyz authorities said that 49 of 134 injured were brought to hospitals in Bishkek.

Kyrgyz Health Minister Alymkadyr Beishenaliev along with other doctors flew to the Batken region to provide practical assistance to the injured.

According to local Tajik sources, eight Tajik citizens lost their lives and more than 90 were injured.

Cease-fire

On Thursday, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Ruslan Kazakbaev held talks with his Tajik counterpart Sirojiddin Mukhriddin and other representatives over "further joint actions aimed at resolving the situation" in the border area, said a Foreign Ministry statement.

"The Foreign Ministries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan stressed the urgent need to resolve the conflict situation, which led to the victims and wounded from both the Kyrgyz and Tajik sides, through peaceful political and diplomatic negotiations," the statement said.

According to the statement, Kazakbaev said the Kyrgyz side does not claim foreign territories but also "has no intention of sharing its land with anyone," and stressed that all border and economic issues should be resolved at the negotiating table with the participation of high government representatives on the delimitation and demarcation of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

"As a result of several negotiations between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, agreements were reached on a comprehensive cease-fire from 20.00 hours [1400GMT] and the withdrawal of military forces to the places of their previous deployment," it said.

The parties also agreed to hold a separate meeting of the heads of law enforcement and security agencies with the participation of representatives of local authorities, where further details of resolving the situation could be discussed.

Mukhriddin, for his part, stressed that Tajikistan is committed to address the issues with Kyrgyzstan through talks in view of its national interests.

Tajikistan will never cede its soil owned since ancient times, he added.

"The EU welcomes the agreement reached on Thursday by the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan on a cease-fire and further negotiations for a political settlement of the border issues," said a European Union External Action Service (EEAS) statement.

“The EU regrets the violence over the past days and expresses its sympathy to those who have lost relatives or friends,” it added.

Resolving crisis

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in a phone call discussed measures to de-escalate tensions on the frontier, local news outlets reported.

The two leaders agreed to resolve the crisis in a peaceful manner, and decided to meet in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe in the second half of May.

Meanwhile, delegations of the two states are set to hold border talks on May 1 in Batken, Kyrgyzstan.

What happened?

The two days of clashes that started Wednesday were over the control of the local water distribution network, local media in Kyrgyzstan reported Thursday.

Surveillance equipment was installed by Tajik officials at the Golovnoi water distribution center, which Kyrgyzstan says is located in an area where sovereignty has yet to be defined, according to Radio Free Europe online.

The clashes broke out between border troops of the two Central Asia countries, and soldiers were sent to the region with armored vehicles from both sides.

Tensions over control of the water supply continued Thursday, however, with local residents throwing stones at each other.

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