Tajikistan military attacked Kyrgyz border guards with mortars and RPGs

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Fresh clashes took place on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. At least two people were dead and many more wounded.

This morning at the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan there was a serious clash between the military and border guards of the two countries. As it became known, from the side of the post “Keh” of the border troops of Tajikistan, a shot was fired in the direction of the Kyrgyz post “Bulak-Bashy”. This quickly developed into the opening of return fire and, as a result, a sharp escalation – the Tajik military attacked the territory of Kyrgyzstan using mortars and hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers.

“On the Kyrgyz-Tajik section of the state border, there was a skirmish between the border guards of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan. The border guards of the two sides immediately took up combat positions. The border representative of the Kyrgyz Republic for the Batken region and the border representative of the Republic of Tajikistan for the Sughd region held telephone conversations. The heads of the border detachments of the parties left for the scene of the incident. However, at 07:50, the Tajik side again began skirmishing with the use of grenade launchers and mortars. At 8.10 the firefight stopped ,” a spokesman for the press center of the Kyrgyz border service said.

Tajikistan’s State Committee for National Security said two civilians were killed and 10 other people wounded, including six security force members and four civilians.

Kyrgyzstan’s Health Ministry said 12 wounded people were taken to hospital. The Emergencies Ministry said more than 24,000 Kyrgyz were evacuated from the area of the fighting.

Both countries had earlier accused each other of starting the fighting, which took place in the Tort-Kocho area in Kyrgyzstan’s western Batken Province.

Tajikistan’s Security Committee said the Kyrgyz side fired at Tajik “residents, vehicles, and facilities.”

Kyrgyz authorities said the conflict started when Tajik citizens blocked a road crossing the disputed segment of the border.

Border guards on both sides managed to get the road unblocked, but “the Tajik side…opened fire with mortars and grenade launchers,” Kyrgyzstan’s top security body said.

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-long 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.

Earlier on January 27, the most intense outbreak of violence between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan since a similar clash last year killed dozens, erupted along a segment of the countries’ poorly demarcated border in a standoff over a blocked road.

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