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Residents Of Two Kyrgyz Villages Evacuated After Deadly Border Clashes

Batken, along Kyrgyzstan's border with Tajikistan, on March 15
Batken, along Kyrgyzstan's border with Tajikistan, on March 15

Kyrgyz authorities have evacuated residents of two villages near a disputed section of its border with Tajikistan following deadly clashes in the area.

In a statement on March 15, the Kyrgyz government's press service said people from Ak-Sai and Kok-Tash had been moved to Batken, the regional capital of the southwestern region that shares the same name.

The press service also said Deputy Prime Minister Jenish Razakov and Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Azim Ibrohim held talks and stressed the importance of bringing calm to the area before a joint probe into the violence is launched.

The unrest erupted on March 13 after Kyrgyzstan relaunched work on a controversial road in the disputed section of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border.

At least two people -- both identified as Tajik nationals -- have been killed and dozens wounded in two days of clashes between residents of Ak-Sai and the Tajik village of Mehnatobod. A Kyrgyz police officer has also been wounded by gunfire.

Deadly Clashes Hit Kyrgyz-Tajik Border
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A Kyrgyz Health Ministry official told RFE/RL on March 15 that a Kyrgyz citizen with gunshot wounds was rushed to a hospital in Batken overnight as the situation in the area remains tense.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov's press service said Jeenbekov and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon agreed during a March 14 phone conversation to push forward with talks on delineating their disputed borders and to launch a joint investigation into the shootings.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev and Tajik Prime Minister Kohir Rasulzoda also discussed the border tensions in a separate phone call on March 14, the Kyrgyz government's press service announced.

Kyrgyzstan has been attempting to build a new stretch of road in the area for years, stopping and restarting construction work repeatedly while negotiators from the two countries try to reach a formal border-delineation agreement.

Tajikistan insists the proposed path of the road cuts through disputed territory, and that the road should not be built until a deal is reached on the exact location of the border.

Officials from both countries say construction work on the road has, once again, been halted while negotiators discuss the situation.

The situation on the border remains tense.
The situation on the border remains tense.

Kyrgyzstan's parliament on March 14 announced it was launching an official hearing on "the situation along the Kyrgyz-Tajik border."

Many border areas in Central Asian former Soviet republics have been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.

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