September 29, 2023

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The death toll in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border conflict has reached nearly 100

The death toll in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border conflict has reached nearly 100

A still image from a video, posted by Kyrgyz border guards, shows what is said to be an active military confrontation on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border as seen from an unknown location in Batken region, Kyrgyzstan, in this still image taken from the footage published. September 16, 2022. Bulletin from the Kyrgyz Border Guard Service via Reuters.

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BISHKEK (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan said on Sunday that nearly 100 people had died in their border conflict, as a fragile ceasefire between Central Asian nations continued for a second day, and their common ally Russia called for a de-escalation.

The former Soviet republics clashed over a border dispute from 14-16 September, accusing each other of using tanks, mortars, rocket artillery, and drones to attack outposts and nearby settlements. Read more

Both countries border China, while Tajikistan also has a long border with Afghanistan.

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The long stretches of the frontier dividing the two former Soviet states are in dispute. Clashes in April 2021 left more than 50 people dead and raised the prospect of a broader conflict.

Central Asian border issues stem largely from the Soviet era, when Moscow attempted to divide the region between groups that were often settled among other races.

Kyrgyzstan late on Sunday reported 13 more deaths in the fighting, adding to the previous death toll of 46. The former Soviet country also said 102 people were injured.

Kyrgyzstan said earlier it had evacuated about 137,000 people from the conflict zone. The government declared September 19 a day of mourning for the victims.

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Describing the conflict as an invasion, Kyrgyz media reported on Sunday that some of the evacuees had already started returning to their homes.

On Sunday, Tajikistan reported 35 deaths. It did not report any mass evictions.

The Tajik Foreign Ministry said that Kyrgyzstan continued a media campaign against it and noted that Kyrgyz President Sadir Gabarov used the term “enemy” to refer to Tajikistan in his speech on Saturday.

The two sides agreed to a ceasefire on September 16, but it has largely held despite several alleged bombing incidents.

The Kremlin said Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with Gabarov and veteran Tajik President Emomali Rahmon on Sunday.

Putin’s office said in a statement that Putin urged both sides to prevent further escalation, take measures to resolve the situation “exclusively by peaceful, political and diplomatic means as soon as possible” and offer assistance.

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Covering by Olga Dzyubenko Additional reporting by Nazarali Bernazarov in Dushanbe Writing by Olsas Oysov and Ron Popesky Editing by Raisa Kasulovsky, David Evans and Richard Chang

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.