Monday, October 18, 2021

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan end worst armed clashes since 1991

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A man, amid the ruins of his burnt down business, in Maksat, Kyrgyzstan, on the border with Tajikistan, May 2, 2021.

As the dust settles on the Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan border in the Ferghana Valley, the gravity of the incidents that have occurred there in recent days is coming to light. On Monday, May 3, the tension seemed to have subsided completely, while a truce concluded two days earlier was not enough to completely stop the fighting between the two countries, the most serious since the independence of 1991 and the emergence of inextricable border disputes.

Now is the time to take stock, and it is heavy. On the Kyrgyz side, the authorities report 36 dead, including 31 civilians, and more than 183 injured. Tajikistan spoke on Monday for the first time “Several killed and dozens of wounded”. Independent estimates, including that of the Tajik branch of Radio Liberté, suggest around 15 deaths.

This gap in communication and in balance sheets is not surprising: the tumultuous Kyrgyz democracy has a tradition of transparency that does not exist in Dushanbe, where dictator Emomali Rahmon has been in power since 1992. Then, it seems that the The fiercest fighting and the most intense bombardments took place on the Kyrgyz side of the border, mainly in the Batken district.

Read also Calm returns to the border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in the aftermath of deadly fighting

Residents on both sides, who had fled by the tens of thousands, were able to return to the area, where they saw extensive destruction. Around 100 houses and buildings were razed in several villages, including schools. These figures reflect the intensity of the fighting, which would have mobilized even combat helicopters. At least three Kyrgyz border posts were also set on fire. The damage is less on the Tajik side, but still significant, especially in the district of Isfara.

Mutual accusations

The two sides accuse each other of the outbreak of the fighting, but their versions are quite close regarding the outbreak of violence, Thursday April 29. The dispute would concern access to water, traditionally problematic at the end of winter, when irrigation resumes.

Following the attempt by the Tajik authorities to install a monitoring system on a water distribution center located in the neutral zone, civilians from both countries reportedly started throwing stones at each other, before the first intervenes. gunfire. Ten Kyrgyz civilians were captured at this time, before being released two days later.

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