This content is not available in your region

Kyrgyzstan reports 13 deaths in territorial clashes with Tajikistan

Access to the comments Comments
By Euronews  with AFP
File photo of Kyrgyz soldiers at a checkpoint in the capital Bishkek
File photo of Kyrgyz soldiers at a checkpoint in the capital Bishkek   -   Copyright  Vladimir Voronin/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Kyrgyzstan has reported a death toll of 13 on its side after border clashes with Tajikistan.

The two central Asian countries have traded fire in a dispute over a large area of territory.

Thirteen people have died amid 134 casualties since military units from both countries started fighting, the Kyrgyz health ministry said in a statement.

Two other wounded were in serious condition, it said. The last death toll was three the previous day.

Among the victims in Kyrgyzstan is a girl "born in 2008", the same source said.

Some 11,500 residents of two districts in the Batken region have been evacuated, according to the authorities of this border area with Tajikistan where the fighting was most intense.

"They have been placed in specially equipped places...or have gone to the homes of family members," they said in a statement.

On Thursday afternoon, Kyrgyz diplomacy announced that the foreign ministers of both sides had agreed on "a complete truce" from 16:00 (CEST) and the "return of troops to their previous places of deployment".

A statement from Tajikistan’s state information service acknowledged on Friday that the two sides had reached "a mutual agreement to end the armed conflict, and withdraw military personnel and equipment to places of permanent deployment.

The clashes along the border between the two poor, mountainous countries have been the most violent in years.

Thursday's clash between their two armies raised fears that it could escalate into a wider conflict.

A police official in the Kyrgyz region of Batken told the AFP news agency by phone that shooting had continued overnight "but not intensively", and that fighting was "between both civilians and soldiers".

Tajikistan officially reported only two bullet wounds, but the Russian news agency Ria Novosti, citing a source in the town hall of the border town of Isfara, reported at least three dead and 31 injured on the Tajik side.

Border disagreements between three countries sharing the fertile Fergana Valley - Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - stem from demarcations made during the Soviet era. The borders separated certain groups from their homelands.

More than a third of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border is disputed, including the area around the Tajik enclave of Vorukh, where Thursday's conflict erupted, a regular stumbling block to land and water claims.