Kyrgyz-Tajik border conflict death toll rises to 81

A still from a video, released by the Kyrgyz Border Guard Service, shows what it said was an active military confrontation on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border seen from an unidentified location in the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan, in this still image from document footage released September 16, 2022. Kyrgyz Border Guard Service/Handout via REUTERS.

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BISHKEK, September 18 (Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan said on Sunday the death toll in their border dispute had risen to 81 people as a fragile ceasefire was held between two countries in Central Asia for a second day and their mutual ally Russia has called for a de-escalation.

Former Soviet republics clashed September 14-16 over a border dispute, accusing each other of using tanks, mortars, rockets and assault drones to attack outposts and settlements neighbours. Read more

Border issues in Central Asia largely stem from the Soviet era when Moscow attempted to divide the region between groups whose settlements were often located in the middle of those of other ethnicities.

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Kyrgyzstan on Sunday reported 46 deaths in previous fighting and also said it had evacuated around 137,000 people from the conflict zone. The government has declared September 19 a day of mourning for the victims.

Kyrgyz media, which described the conflict as an invasion, reported on Sunday that some of those evacuated had already started returning home.

Tajikistan also reported its casualties on Sunday, saying 35 people had been killed. He reported no mass evacuations from the area.

Tajikistan’s foreign ministry said Kyrgyzstan was continuing a media campaign against it and noted that Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov used the term “enemy” to refer to Tajikistan in his speech on Saturday.

The two sides agreed to a ceasefire on September 16 which largely held firm despite several alleged incidents of shelling.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone with Japarov and Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon on Sunday, the Kremlin said.

Putin urged the parties to prevent further escalation and take steps to resolve the situation “exclusively through peaceful, political and diplomatic means as soon as possible,” offering assistance, his office said in a statement.

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Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko Additional reporting by Nazarali Pirnazarov in Dushanbe Writing by Olzhas Auyezov Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and David Evans

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

. balance sheet conflict border kyrgyztajik rises dead

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