Kyrgyz-Tajik ceasefire largely holds after quiet night

AFP / Vyacheslav Oseledko

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan reported no major overnight incidents on Saturday, indicating that a ceasefire remained in effect after intense fighting on Friday. However, Kyrgyz border guards said a village was briefly shelled.

The two former Soviet republics clashed over a border dispute this week, accusing each other of using tanks, mortars, rocket artillery and assault drones to attack nearby settlements.

Central Asian border issues primarily stem from the Soviet era when Moscow tried to divide the region between groups whose settlements were often located amidst those of other ethnicities.

Kyrgyzstan, which on Friday reported 24 deaths and dozens of people wounded, said one border village was shelled by mortars for five minutes early on Saturday after an otherwise quiet night.

Tajikistan has not given any official casualty numbers, but security sources said at least seven people were killed on Friday. Tajik border guards said one of their outposts in a different area had been shelled on Saturday.

But the administration of Tajikistan's northern Sughd province - where the clashes erupted - said on Saturday tensions were easing in the border area.

"As a result of meetings between Tajik and Kyrgyz delegations the situation on the border is stabilising, and people are returning to normal life," it said in a statement.

Both countries host Russian military bases and are members of several Russia-led military and economic blocs.

Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon and his Kyrgyz counterpart Sadyr Japarov were attending a Russia- and China-led regional body meeting this week when the border violence erupted.

The Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation said on Saturday the use of force in the Kyrgyz-Tajik border conflict was unacceptable, Interfax reported.

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