BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyzstan says at least 31 people have been killed in fierce clashes on the disputed border with Tajikistan when officials from the two former Soviet countries met on Friday to defuse tensions.
Clashes between communities over land and water along the pair’s long-fought border are common, with border guards often involved. But Thursday’s shootout between the two militants was the heaviest in years and there are fears it could spark more conflict.
Tajikistan, a closed, dictatorial state, has not formally acknowledged any deaths in clashes between government employees on Thursday. At least 154 people were killed in Kyrgyzstan, including 31 in recent violence, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health said Friday.
Leaders from both sides remained in touch on Friday, offering hope that the conflict that erupted after a clash of communities over a key piece of river infrastructure could be resolved.
On Friday, Kyrgyz President Sadir Japarov and his Tajik counterpart Emomali Rakhmon spoke by telephone, and agreed to meet “in the second half of May,” according to Jumarov’s press service. “The heads of state agreed to resolve the current situation exclusively peacefully,” the statement said.
Kyrgyzstan’s head of national security, Kamchibek Tashiyev, told reporters that he had met with his Tajik counterpart, Saimin Yatimov, on Friday in a “neutral area” on the border. Tashiyev promised that the problems on their common border would be resolved “in the next few days.”
In a rare statement from Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz-Tajik joint working group “is working with the hope of peace and friendship,” the press service of its Sughd region said. Local officials in the southwestern Batken region of Kyrgyzstan say that despite the ceasefire, there has been a spate of shootings on the shared border. From time to time. Continued