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Border Tense After Tajiks Detain Kyrgyz Citizen

BATKEN, Kyrgyzstan -- About 100 people from a southern Kyrgyz village have gathered on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border to demand the immediate release of a man being held by Tajiks, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Tajik officials say Rasulbek Burkanov, a Kyrgyz citizen, was detained on April 17 for "illegal trading in mercury on Tajik territory."

RFE/RL reports from the village of Kara-Bak that Kyrgyz and Tajik officials are holding talks regarding Burkanov. The Kyrgyz gathered at the border say they will not leave the area until the issue is resolved.

It is not clear what side of the border Burkanov was on when he was detained.

Local officials in Kyrgyzstan's Batken region, where Kara-Bak is located, say that if Burkanov was detained on Kyrgyz territory then he has to face charges and possible trial in Kyrgyzstan.

The border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan was not delimited after the collapse of the Soviet Union and some parts are still disputed.

Earlier this month, Tajiks and Kyrgyz clashed near the Kyrgyz village of Kok-Tash, near Kara-Bak. On April 8, a group of young Tajiks attacked a Kyrgyz police officer who had allegedly beaten a Tajik truck driver two days earlier.

Kyrgyz men retaliated by blocking the only highway that links Tajikistan's Isfara region with Vorukh, a Tajik exclave surrounded by Kyrgyz territory.

Also on April 8, two Kyrgyz trucks were stopped and attacked by local youths on the Tajik side of the border, which led to a fight between Kyrgyz and Tajik men near the Kyrgyz village of Tash-Tumshuk.

Read more in Kyrgyz here