Kyrgyzstan’s leader calls for calm after deadly conflict with Tajikistan

Reuters story

Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov on Monday urged his country to rely on its military and strategic partners, saying there were no volunteer forces on the border with Tajikistan after deadly clashes there last week.

At least 100 people were killed in fighting between 14 and 16 September along a disputed part of the border in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken province using tanks, aircraft and rocket artillery.

“We continue our efforts to resolve the problems on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border peacefully,” Japarov said in a televised address on the national day of mourning.

“One more point I would like to mention: I ask for calm among the men and youth who are ready to go to Batken… We have brave warriors and sufficient forces to repel those who violate our borders.”

Japarov also urged Kyrgyz not to trust “provocateurs who slander our strategic partners, friendly nations and peoples who share our position.”

Separately, Russian news agencies reported that both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have agreed to withdraw the army and additional military forces from the border, citing a statement by the head of Tajikistan’s Sogdiyskaya region.

Both sides have also agreed to continue resolving the border dispute.

Kyrgyz authorities also said Monday they had negotiated the release of four border guards captured by Tajik troops during the conflict.

Tajikistan’s foreign ministry said on Monday that the key to resolving the conflict lies in negotiations, and reiterated its position that Kyrgyzstan had instigated the fighting.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sodik Emomi said in a statement that ethnic Tajiks who were not Tajik citizens were being detained in Kyrgyzstan and that Kyrgyz drones were seen flying into Tajik territory overnight.

Border issues in Central Asia largely date back to the Soviet era, when Moscow tried to divide the region between groups that were often located among other ethnic groups.

According to Emomi, there have been more than 230 incidents along the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the past 20 years, and that the focus of the latest conflict was an area of ​​2,000 square kilometers (772 square miles).

The former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are allied with Moscow and host Russian military bases. Russia has avoided taking sides in the conflict and has called on the parties to resolve it peacefully.