Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan announced a ceasefire after exchanges of fire that left three dead and 86 wounded on April 29. The two countries accuse each other of having started hostilities and Russia is “monitoring the situation”.
Kyrgyzstan announced a ceasefire with Tajikistan on April 29 after border clashes left at least three dead and 86 injured during the day, the worst recent clashes between the two Central Asian countries disputing large portions of territories.
In a statement, Kyrgyz diplomacy said foreign ministers from both sides agreed to “a complete truce” from 8:00 p.m. (2:00 p.m. GMT) and “the return of troops to their previous locations of deployment.”
This announcement came a few hours after numerous exchanges of fire around the Tajik enclave of Voroukh in Kyrgyzstan, an area of tension linked to issues of access to water between these two very poor former Soviet republics.
According to the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health, 84 Kyrgyz citizens were injured in the fighting. Three others died, including a child who succumbed to her injuries while being transferred to hospital.
For its part, Tajikistan has only officially reported two people with gunshot wounds but the Russian news agency Ria Novosti, citing a source in the town hall of the border town of Isfara, reported at least three dead and 31 wounded on the Tajik side.
600 villagers evacuated near the border
Before the announcement of this truce, Kyrgyzstan had announced that its special forces had conquered a border post in response to bombardments which caused the fire at one of their border posts. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Red Crescent said they had evacuated more than 600 villagers living near the border to the town of Batken in Kyrgyzstan.
The Kyrgyz National Security Committee claimed that Tajikistan had “deliberately provoked a conflict” by accusing its opponent of “setting up positions to carry out mortar fire”. Conversely, the Tajik National Security Council accused the Kyrgyz army of having opened fire on Tajik troops “located at the Golovnaïa water distribution site, on the upper course of the Isfara river”.
The foreign ministry of neighboring Uzbekistan, the most populous country in Central Asia, for its part called for an “immediate cessation of hostilities” and offered its help in resolving the crisis. Main regional power, Russia announced by the voice of the spokesperson for its diplomacy that it “followed the situation”.
Unlimited borders at the fall of the USSR in 1991
As AFP reports, large portions of the border between the two countries have not been demarcated since the breakup of the USSR in 1991. Ethnic tensions are also accentuated by rivalries over access to land. land and water in these poor areas.
Several deadly incidents erupted in 2019 and in September, three Tajik border guards and one Kyrgyz were killed in crossfire. Tajik leader Emomali Rakhmon met then Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov in July 2019 for a symbolic handshake in Isfara, Tajikistan.
However, these discussions on the “delimitation of national borders” and the “prevention and resolution of border disputes” had not succeeded. Another country in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is also affected by these border problems.
In June 2010, tensions between the Kyrgyz majority and the Uzbek minority in southern Kyrgyzstan sparked inter-ethnic violence and killed hundreds.