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Deadly fighting on Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border kills at least 31

At least 31 people have been killed, dozens injured and 10,000 evacuated after a water dispute led to some of the worst clashes in years at a controversial border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

Clashes began on Wednesday when people on both sides threw stones at each other after surveillance cameras were installed at a water facility.

A truce and a withdrawal of troops were agreed, but some firing appeared to continue.

The casualties figures came from the Kyrgyz side, the Tajik figures being unclear.

Kyrgyz Health Minister Aliza Soltonbekova told a televised briefing that 31 people had been killed and more than 150 injured since the violence began on Thursday.

According to Kyrgyz figures on evacuations and casualties, a young girl was among the dead.

Images posted on social media show buildings on fire in the area, in a controversial area around the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan. Among the properties burned down were a border post, more than 20 houses, a school, eight shops and a casino, according to the Kyrgyz emergency ministry.

The governor of Kyrgyzstan’s Batken province said the two sides agreed that the water monitoring equipment should be removed, but Tajikistan subsequently refused.

There are reports that border guards were involved after the initial clashes intensified. Military units on both sides began exchanging fire on Thursday, but later in the day a ceasefire was announced to go into effect from 8:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. GMT) with the armed forces returning to their bases. .

A police representative in Batken told AFP news agency by telephone that the shooting continued overnight “but not intensively”. Shooting took place “between military units and civilians,” he said.

The poor demarcation of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border has led to a number of clashes since the two countries became independent in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Tajikistan recognized the ceasefire on Friday in a statement released by its state information service. But the state has so far failed to recognize any victims or damage resulting from the violence.


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