Kyrgyz authorities accuse Tajik border guards of opening fire on truck driver near disputed border

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Radio Liberty’s Kyrgyz Service reports Kyrgyz authorities say Tajik border guards opened fire on a truck and attempted to abduct the driver near a disputed sector of the border between the two Central Asian states where ethnic-related incidents have been frequent in recent years.

Kyrgyzstan's State Border Guard Service said on December 22 that three Tajik border guards forcibly got aboard a Kyrgyz truck, when its driver stopped to get some water from a spring in the southern Leilek district.

"The Tajik border guards then ordered the Kyrgyz driver to drive his truck further with them aboard. To attract other vehicles attention to his situation, the driver abruptly turned the wheel blocking the road, which forced the Tajik soldiers to leave the truck. However, when the Kyrgyz citizen continued to drive his truck, the Tajik border guards opened fire at the vehicle hitting the windshield and a tire," says a statement released by Kyrgyzstan's State Border Guard Service, according to RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service.

The driver reportedly sustained minor injuries caused by shattered glass.

The incident could not be independently confirmed and Tajik officials have yet to comment on the Kyrgyz statement, RFE/RL’s Kyrgyz Service added.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have not yet resolved the border delineation problem. Many border areas in Central Asia have been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the Fergana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.

The border of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan has been the scene of unrest repeatedly since the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

It has been difficult to demarcate the Kyrgyz-Tajik border because over the course of some 100 years Soviet mapmakers drew and redrew the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, incorporating land that had traditionally belonged to one people in the territory of the other Soviet republic.

Exclaves appeared and temporary land use agreements were signed.

All of this survived the collapse of the Soviet Union and people in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have various Soviet-era maps they use to justify their claim to specific areas along the border.

Border talks between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan began in 2002. Only slightly more than half of the 970 kilometers of border shared by the two countries has been demarcated despite decades of attempts to bring the matter to a close. The border delineation problem has led to conflicts between rival ethnic communities.

Almost half of the 970-kilometer-long Kyrgyz-Tajik border has not been demarcated, leading to repeated tensions since the two countries gained independence three decades ago.

In late April, clashes that involved military personnel along a disputed segment of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border left dozens of people dead on both sides.

Source: Asia-Plus