Cease-Fire Said Holding After Worst Violence In Decades On Kyrgyz-Tajik Border
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Both sides have reported calm on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border as a day-old cease-fire appeared to be holding and more than 40 people were being mourned from some of the worst clashes in decades on their disputed frontier.
A joint Kyrgyz-Tajik military commission reported finding an unexploded rocket embedded in a residence in the area as the group inspected the scene of 24 hours of intense violence on April 28-29.
Kyrgyzstan is observing two days of official mourning for 34 people who died in Batken Province. One hundred and seventy-eight more were reported injured on the Kyrgyz side, seven of them still in grave condition.
Some 30,000 Kyrgyz villagers were reportedly evacuated from their homes.
Fifteen people were thought to have been killed on the Tajik side and 90 more injured, according to RFE/RL's Tajik Service, although Tajik authorities did not disclose casualty figures.
The Kyrgyz Interior Ministry said in a statement on May 2 that "the situation in all districts and villages of Batken Province on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border is stable and calm."
The violence followed a dispute over the installation of surveillance cameras at a water-distribution point near Tajikistan's Vorukh exclave, drawing in security forces from both countries.
Kyrgyz security officials at one point accused Tajik forces of using MI-24 helicopter gunships to shoot at Kyrgyz villages.
Kyrgyz reports say about 100 structures, including dozens of homes, three border checkpoints, a medical center, a police station, and two schools, were damaged.
The heads of national security for the post-Soviet, Central Asian neighbors agreed to the pullback during a crisis meeting on May 1.
The meeting of the Tajik and Kyrgyz delegations followed a telephone conversation between Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov and his Tajik counterpart, Emomali Rahmon.
The European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and Russia have all urged both sides to respect the cease-fire agreement.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan both host Russian military bases.
Human Rights Watch has urged an immediate investigation to hold either side responsible for laws-of-war violations against civilians.
Like many other border areas in Central Asia, almost half of the 970-kilometer-long Kyrgyz-Tajik border has not been demarcated, leading to tensions for the past 30 years.
Source: Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.