According to an Al Jazeera report, clashes have broken out on the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border as both leaders attend the SCO Summit organised by China.
After three days of sporadic gunfire between military border stations, border clashes between the two Central Asian countries and longtime rivals Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have broken out on Friday. Despite a flimsy attempt at a truce, the neighbouring countries, both of which are former Soviet republics and have close links to Moscow, are still engaged in an armed conflict over disputed border territory.
“The border guard said Kyrgyz forces were returning fire on Friday morning, as clashes took place along the length of the border, adding that Tajik forces were using tanks, armoured personnel carriers, and mortars,” Al Jazeera reports. “More than one-third of the 1,000km (600-mile) frontier remains disputed.”
In a set of circumstances that somewhat like the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, which is also putting the region on edge, the two nations were on the verge of all-out war last year, with minor border skirmishes tending to flare up semi-frequently.
According to some reports, violence has occurred throughout the whole border this week, with each side blaming the other for inciting the conflict with provocative and violent actions. According to Reuters,
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…Tajikistan accused Kyrgyz forces of shelling one of its outposts and seven villages with “heavy weaponry.” A civilian was killed and three injured, authorities in the Tajik city of Isfara said.
In the meantime, the Kyrgyz health ministry said on Friday that 31 people had been hurt during the clashes. Security services in Tajikistan have also alleged the following:
“The armed forces of the neighbor country are using all types of available heavy guns and firearm and subjecting villages on the border to intense mortar bombing,” the State Committee for National Security, or GKNB, said in a statement. “Servicemen from Kyrgyz special forces units … have carried armed attacks on homes and set fire to residential buildings.”
Ironically, the presidents of Kyrgyzstan’s Sadyr Japarov and Tajikistan’s Emomali Rahmon are currently attending the SCO summit in neighbouring Uzbekistan along with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Even as border clashes took place, both leaders could be seen together in group photos at the regional security summit organised by China.
Following meetings between Presidents of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in Samarkand, there are claims that both side’s army have received orders to reduce their forces.
According to reports, both sides’ forces managed to achieve a fragile ceasefire before the end of the day on Friday. Townspeople on both sides of the boundary have already levelled allegations that it hasn’t held up completely.