It is confirmed that 21 people have been killed, one among the dead being a young girl, in a fatal clash between central Asian countries Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan following a dispute over the border that is shared between them.
Kyrgyzstan’s border guard service said Tajik troops shelled several Kyrgyz border checkpoints, setting one ablaze. Kyrgyz troops then seized a Tajik checkpoint in retaliation- this has been confirmed in media releases from both sides.
More than 800 Kyrgyz residents were evacuated from villages near the clashes- out of fear that the conflict would become larger and affect them too.
Peter Leonard, a Central Asia editor, released a video on Twitter, which showed harrowing footage of Kyrgyz homes being set ablaze.
Kyrgyzstan’s health ministry said one person died and 45 others were injured, this is according to the Tass news agency.
Tajikistan’s mayor’s office has said that there have been three deaths with 31 being injured, including the mayor who received a gunshot wound.
However, Tajik-American journalist, Farangis Najibullah has been providing updates via Twitter that detail the atrocities of the antagonism along the unclear Kyrgyz-Taji border, which are higher than previously stated, with 21 being killed total with hundreds of injured civilians and military personnel alike.
The disputed area is around the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan, where the governor of Batken said that surveillance of a water supply facility near the village of Kok-Tash, a village on the border, should be removed, which Tajikistan refused- this was shown in the immediate response by the border guards where open-fire began.
Military units from both sides then began exchanging fire on Thursday, with a ceasefire being announced to take effect from 20:00 (14:00 GMT) alongside armed forces returning to their bases.
However, it is reported that firing continued past this time, hence making the conflict continue with a full cease-fire coming into effect later on the Friday.
This conflict had originally started on Wednesday where people from both sides threw stones at one another following an installation of surveillance cameras at a water facility.
Both nations have claimed the area around the water reservoir, a dispute that dates to Kyrgyz-Tajik border clashes since the two countries became independent in 1991– following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
After the independence of both countries, a large part of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border has remained unmarked, catalyising fatal disputes over water, land and pastures- as shown in the events this week.
This has been dubbed as some of the worst border fighting in years with thousands being affected directly across both countries.