Kyrgyzstan announced that the clashes left 46 dead on its side in a week. Tajikistan has mentioned the loss of 35 of its citizens.
At least 81 people have been killed this week in border clashes between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the two sides said on Sunday, the worst violence in years between these countries which have established a fragile truce. The situation on the disputed border of these two former Soviet republics in Central Asia was however calm during the day, according to Bishkek, after the signing of an emergency ceasefire on Friday.
Tajik diplomacy published a first detailed report on its side on Facebook on Sunday, reporting 35 dead and 25 wounded in the fighting between Wednesday and Friday, and saying that most of the dead were civilians. This source assures that the Kyrgyz army notably killed twelve people during a drone strike on a mosque, six others during another drone attack against a school, and seven others when shooting at an ambulance. AFP was unable to verify these statements from an independent source, in an authoritarian country that is very closed to the press.
For its part, in its latest assessment, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Health indicated that 46 Kyrgyz had been killed in the Batken region, located in the south-west of Kyrgyzstan and bordering Tajikistan. Bishkek also said 140 people were injured and Emergency Situations Minister Boobek Ajikeeb said on Sunday that four Kyrgyz soldiers were missing. The toll of the fighting now far exceeds that of previous major border fighting, in April 2021, which caused the death of around fifty people and raised fears of a larger-scale conflict.
The situation stabilized on Sunday
In telephone interviews, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called on Kyrgyz Presidents Sadyr Japarov and Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon to avoid new clashes in these countries where Moscow historically plays the role of referee. “Vladimir Putin called on the parties to prevent further escalation and to take steps to resolve the situation as soon as possible, and this only through peaceful and politico-diplomatic means“, According to a statement from the Kremlin. However, the situation seemed to stabilize on Sunday.
In a statement, the State Committee for National Security of Kyrgyzstan said that as of 2 p.m. local time (9 a.m. GMT) the situation at the border “remained calm, with a tendency to stabilize“. “On the border line, no attempts at climbing or shooting were reported. The parties maintain their agreement for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of the forces concerned, work continues in this direction“, added this source.
On Saturday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called officials from both sides by phone “to foster a dialogue for a lasting ceasefiresaid a United Nations spokesperson. On Saturday morning, the Tajik Interior Ministry said civilians had been killed in Tajikistan during truce violations, without specifying the number since. Shooting between the two countries earlier this week had already caused the death of two Tajik border guards and injured.
The border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is the scene of regular fighting. Nearly half of the 970 kilometers of common border has been contested since the breakup of the USSR, against a backdrop of tensions over access to resources. In April 2021, an eruption of violence left more than 50 people dead and raised fears of a larger-scale conflict.
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