Latest Shoot-Out Along Kyrgyz-Tajik Border Increases Tensions

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Kyrgyzstan's Border Guard Service says one person has been wounded in the latest shoot-out near a disputed segment of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

Border guards from the two countries started shooting at each other on April 12 near the village of Maksat in the Leilek district after Tajik border guards "moved 20 meters inside Kyrgyz territory," the Kyrgyz Border Guard Service said.

"Kyrgyz border guards fired warning shots, but Tajik border guards then started shooting at the Kyrgyz border guards," the service said in a statement.

One border guard was hospitalized with serious injuries, and several villages in the Leilek district were evacuated, the Kyrgyz Border Guard Service said in a later statement on April 12.

It described the situation along the border as "tense" and said the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security "is taking all measures to stabilize the situation."

An RFE/RL correspondent reports from the Tajik side that two Tajik border guards were wounded in the incident.

Tajik officials have not confirmed the shoot-out, which took place just weeks after border guards from the two sides exchanged fire on March 10. No casualties were reported then.

In late January, clashes erupted along a segment of the two countries' poorly demarcated border in a standoff over a blocked road.

Tajikistan's State Committee for National Security said at the time that two civilians were killed and 10 other people -- six security force members and four civilians – were wounded.

Kyrgyz authorities said 12 Kyrgyz nationals were seriously wounded and more than 24,200 Kyrgyz citizens were evacuated from the area because of the fighting in January.

Almost half of the 970-kilometer Kyrgyz-Tajik border has yet to be demarcated, leading to repeated tensions since the two countries gained independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union more than three decades ago.

Many border areas in Central Asia have been disputed since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.

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

In April 2021, clashes involving military personnel along the Tajik-Kyrgyz border left dozens of people dead on both sides.

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.