2 reported killed in clashes between Kyrgyz, Tajik border guards on eve of security meeting
- Clashes came a day after new fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan raised fears of instability spreading to other parts of the former Soviet Union
- Both nations are allied with Russia and host Russian military bases, but fighting over border issues is frequent and last year almost resulted in war
Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards exchanged fire in three separate incidents in a border dispute on Wednesday, killing at least two people, officials on both sides said.
The clashes came on the eve of a regional security summit, and a day after new fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan raised fears of instability spreading to other parts of the former Soviet Union while Russian forces fight in Ukraine.
Kyrgyz border guards accused the Tajiks of having taken positions at a part of the border that has not been demarcated. The Tajik side said Kyrgyz guards had opened fire on a Tajik outpost unprovoked.
Clashes at the border occur regularly, and last year almost provoked an all-out war between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, both allies of Russia that host Russian military bases.
Tajik security sources said two border guards were killed and 11 people including five civilians were injured on their side of the frontier.
Kyrgyzstan said at least two of its servicemen and two civilians were wounded, and that other shoot-outs also took place in two other areas along its frontier in Batken province, a southern area bordering Uzbekistan as well as Tajikistan.
Kyrgyz media showed videos of residents of one border village leaving homes, saying they had been shelled from the Tajik side. Tajik media also showed children being evacuated from a school in a border village.
Kyrgyzstan’s border guard service said talks to end hostilities were under way.
Kyrgyz and Tajik leaders are expected to attend a summit of the Shanghai Security Organisation in Uzbekistan this week alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese leader Xi Jinping and other regional leaders.