Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan announce truce following deadly clashes in disputed border region

Nick Hannes / Scanpix / LETA

On the evening of Thursday, April 29, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan announced a truce, putting an end to a recent flareup along a disputed section of their common border. Tensions began rising last Saturday after Tajik border guards detained two Kyrgyz nationals, prompting the two countries to exchange diplomatic notes. The clashes on Thursday left at least one person dead and dozens of others injured. Both sides blame each other for the escalation. 

Several days ago, clashes began along a disputed segment of the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, in the area around the Golovnoy water distribution point on the upper Isfara River, which both countries consider their own. Border conflicts between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan occur regularly, since delimitation and demarcation processes only detail 580 kilometers (about 360 miles) of their shared border, which is approximately 980 kilometers long (609 miles). 

Last Saturday, April 24, Tajik border guards detained two Kyrgyz nationals, accusing them of violating the border (the detainees were later released). This prompted the two countries to exchange diplomatic notes. Tajikistan then began installing surveillance cameras on electrical poles in the disputed territory. After the Kyrgyz side demanded that the Tajik side stop this work, local residents from both sides began to arrive at the scene and throw stones at each other. Several people were injured.

On Thursday, April 29, Kyrgyz and Tajik servicemen in the area began to engage in direct clashes. Both sides blamed each other for the escalation. Several of Kyrgyzstan’s border posts were fired on from the Tajik side. Kyrgyz troops, in turn, seized a Tajik border post. The Kyrgyz authorities reported one person killed and more than two dozen others injured as a result of the shooting. Tajikistan didn’t report any losses among military personnel. After the clashes began in the disputed area, both sides began bringing in additional weapons, and Kyrgyzstan announced the evacuation of nearby villages.

Footage of the clashes filmed by Kyrgyz border guards

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan made urgent efforts to resolve the conflict, resulting in a truce. A few hours after the escalation began on Thursday, the Kyrgyz and Tajik heads of government, who are currently in Kazan for a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Union’s intergovernmental council, agreed to hold a snap bilateral meeting. This took place without the involvement of the press. Following the talks, the two sides issued a statement expressing “full readiness for a swift resolution of the conflict situation on the border of the two republics through negotiations.” In turn, the foreign ministers of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan agreed upon a complete ceasefire as of the evening of April 29.

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Story by Grigory Levchenko

Translation by Eilish Hart

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