Fresh clashes on the volatile border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia left more than two dozen people injured, Kyrgyz officials said Friday, raising fears of a wider conflict.
Russia has offered to mediate talks between the mountainous and poor ex-Soviet countries whose shared border is disputed and the site of routine flare-ups.
The head of a security alliance led by Moscow said that officials in both capitals Bishkek and Dushanbe had supported the implementation of a ceasefire and negotiations.
“Violent clashes are taking place along the entire perimeter of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border in the Batken region,” Kyrgyzstan’s border guard service said in a statement Friday.
It accused Tajikistan of using heavy weapons, including rocket launchers and jets, but said its forces were repelling the attacks “making it impossible for them to capture settlements in Kyrgyzstan.”
The health ministry said a total of 31 people had been injured and that medical facilities in the border region of Batken had been put on alert.
Tajikistan accused Kyrgyz forces meanwhile of opening fire early Friday with “intensive” shelling of homes and civilian infrastructure. It did not give information about casualties.
Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, citing official sources, however, reported that one Tajik border guard was killed and three more had been injured.
Tajik military fire on civilian targets in the Batkent region of Kyrgyzstan. pic.twitter.com/60SilWF0iK
— Azamat Maitanov (@MaitanovAzamat) September 16, 2022
Kyrgyzstan said it was launching civilian evacuations from the border region.
Fighting regularly flares up between the mountainous ex-Soviet republics that share a 970-kilometer-long (600- mile) border, with around half of the frontier contested.
In 2021, unprecedented clashes between the two sides killed 50 people.
The authoritarian leader of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmon, and his counterpart from Kyrgyzstan, Sadyr Japarov, were this week attending a regional summit of leaders in Uzbekistan, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.