On April 29th, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan blamed each other for cross-border shelling and clashes that left dozens dead and injured in a conflict over water.
The conflict began on April 28th.
Tensions along the border in the two Central Asian countries is not uncommon.
Troops from the two countries exchanged gunfire for most of the day around a water supply facility near the village of Kok-Tash in western Kyrgyzstan on the border with Tajikistan.
Initially, Kyrgyzstan said that at least 13 were killed in clashes along a disputed segment of its border with Tajikistan before a cease-fire was announced by both sides.
Kyrgyzstan’s Health Ministry said on April 30 that 134 people were also injured in the clashes, which started after residents on both sides of the border started throwing stones at each other.
Early on, Tajikistan made fewer statements as fighting raged, and its national security committee said that two people had been admitted to hospital with gunshot wounds, one of whom was in a serious condition.
The situation rapidly escalated, leading to Kyrgyz and Tajik forces exchanging gunfire in the Leylek district of Kyrgyzstan’s southwestern Batken region.
Late on April 29, the two countries’ foreign ministries announced they had agreed to a cease-fire and would pull back troops while resolving the conflict through diplomacy.
Kyrgyzstan’s foreign ministry said a “complete ceasefire” had been agreed from 8pm local time (14:00 GMT), with military forces returning to bases. Tajikistan did not immediately release an official statement on the agreement.
Local authorities in the Batken region said 13,500 Kyrgyz were also evacuated from villages along the border.
Kyrgyz police in the Batken region blamed Tajik citizens for the escalation, saying they started shooting at a military unit located in the village of Kok-Tash, while gunfire was also reported from the Tajik side near the Kyrgyz village of Ak-Sai.
Tajikistan’s Border Guard Service rejected the Kyrgyz account, saying that Kyrgyz military personnel were the first to shoot when they opened fire at Tajik border units near the Golovnoi water distribution center, located in territory that Tajik authorities claim jurisdiction over.
In Kyrgyzstan, during the conflict with Tajikistan, several dozen buildings burned down, the press service of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the republic told RIA Novosti.
All destruction occurred in the Batken region’s Leilek district, where two houses were destroyed in the village of Kulundu and ten in the village of Maksat, as well as a school.
“In Batken region there are nine residential buildings, ten gas stations, two restaurants, eight shops, one building of a former casino and one frontier post. In the village of Ak-Sai, the building of the fire and rescue unit of the Ministry of Emergency Situations caught fire,” the ministry added.
Despite the ceasefire, Tajiks took the head of a Kyrgyz village hostage, the press service of the Batken district police department said.
Military equipment of Tajikistan is driving around the village of Borborduk, Zhany-Zhersky ayil okmotu of the Leilek region. The military of the Republic of Tatarstan occupied the houses of the Kyrgyz people at the “Residential House” section of the International village. The head of the village went to the area to clarify the information that two Kyrgyz citizens died not far from the place – at that moment he was taken hostage by citizens of Tajikistan, the police department reported.
A case was opened under Article 380 “Crimes against Peace” of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic.