Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan ceasefire holds up after border fighting

i24NEWS - Reuters

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Protesters hold a rally to demand that authorities support residents of Kyrgyzstan's southern Batken province following border clashes with Tajik troops, near the Kyrgyz parliament in Bishkek on September 16, 2022.
VYACHESLAV OSELEDKO / AFPProtesters hold a rally to demand that authorities support residents of Kyrgyzstan's southern Batken province following border clashes with Tajik troops, near the Kyrgyz parliament in Bishkek on September 16, 2022.

Central Asian border issues largely stem from the Soviet era when Moscow tried to divide the region

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan reported no major combat incidents on Saturday, indicating that a ceasefire they agreed upon after intense fighting the day prior remained in effect despite accusations of sporadic shelling by both sides.

The two former Soviet republics clashed over a border dispute this week, accusing each other of using tanks, mortars, rocket artillery, and assault drones to attack outposts and nearby settlements, leaving at least 54 dead.

Central Asian border issues largely stem from the Soviet era when Moscow tried to divide the region between groups whose settlements were often located amidst those of other ethnicities. 

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Kyrgyzstan, which said 24 of its citizens were killed and about 137,000 evacuated from the conflict area, accused Tajik forces of shelling its border outposts several times on Saturday.

Tajikistan did not publish any official casualty number, but security sources said 30 people were killed this week, including 15 who were in a mosque that Dushanbe says was struck by a Kyrgyz drone.

The administration of Tajikistan's northern Sughd province – where the clashes erupted – said tensions were easing in the border area.

"As a result of meetings between Tajik and Kyrgyz delegations the situation on the border is stabilizing, people are returning to normal life," it said in a statement.

Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon and his Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov were attending a meeting of a Russia- and China-led regional body this week when the border violence erupted.

On Saturday, Japarov said in an address to the nation that Kyrgyzstan would not give up any land in the disputed area.

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