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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Kyrgyz, Tajik leaders move to save ceasefire after fresh clashes

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BISHKEK: The presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan spoke by telephone on Saturday hoping to maintain a fragile ceasefire after the worst border clashes between the ex-Soviet countries left at least 33 dead.


The talks came after Kyrgyzstan accused Tajikistan of violating the truce, but the press services of Kyrgyzstan’s leader Sadyr Japarov and Tajikistan’s Emomali Rakhmon said they discussed fulfilling the agreement reached on Thursday, when the fighting erupted.


Clashes between communities over land and water along the long-contested border are regular occurrences, with border guards often getting involved, however this week’s violence was by far the most serious during the Central Asian pair’s 30 years of independence.


Kyrgyzstan on Saturday announced two days of mourning and said that its death toll had risen from 31 to 33, with over a hundred other Kyrgyz injured and at least 30 properties destroyed in its southwestern Batken region.


Despite the ceasefire, Kyrgyzstan’s national security committee said that Tajikistan’s military had “opened fire on dwellings” in Batken’s Leilik district on Saturday. The security committee in a separate statement said that Tajikistan was breaking the ceasefire by bringing its forces closer to the border and periodically firing at cars travelling along a road running through the disputed territory.


Tajikistan’s military also blocked off one strategic section of road, the security committee said, cutting off a Kyrgyz region to the rest of the country. — AFP


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