Amid Tensions, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan To Pull Back Troops

At least six civilians were reported killed and dozens of other people wounded when Kyrgyz and Tajik security forces exchanged fire across the border on Thursday and residents hurled rocks at each other in a clash over a water reservoir, reported Reuters.

The frontier, dating to the Soviet era, is poorly demarcated and minor border disputes are frequent. The latest quarrel quickly escalated as border guards on both sides joined the fighting.

Kyrgyzstan’s State National Security Committee accused the Tajik side of using mortars to shell the disputed water facility. Tajik authorities said the facility belonged to them and accused Kyrgyz forces of shooting at Tajik border guards.

Kyrgyzstan reported three civilians killed and 81 people including at least two soldiers wounded. Tajikistan reported three civilian deaths and 31 people wounded, without giving a breakdown of civilians and troops.

Tajikistan also accused Kyrgyz forces of shelling a bridge with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

Both countries host Russian military bases and maintain close relationships with Moscow. When the fighting broke out, the secretary of Kyrgyzstan’s security council was in the Tajik capital Dushanbe to attend a meeting of a Russian-led security bloc of which Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are members.

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Temporary Withdrawal Troops From Borders

Neighbouring Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have agreed to withdraw troops from their borders after an outburst of intense fighting that killed about 40 people and wounded 175.

The heads of national security for the two former Soviet republics agreed to the pullback during a meeting on Saturday.

The fighting broke out on Wednesday when Tajik officials attempted to mount surveillance cameras to monitor a water supply facility near the village of Kok-Tash in Kyrgyzstan.

Tajik PM Kohir Rasulzoda (L) and Kyrgyzstan PM Ulukbek Maripov (R) met for talks amid tensions. Credit: EPA

Both countries have claimed the area around the water supply facility, a dispute dating back decades to when they were both part of the Soviet Union.

Residents of Kyrgyzstan opposed the surveillance attempt; Kyrgyz and Tajiks began hurling stones at each other and troops quickly entered the fray.

Kyrgyz officials say 33 people were killed on their side and about 7000 area residents were relocated.

Tajik officials have not announced casualties on their side but media reports say about eight people were killed.

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