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Kyrgyz Officials Deny Reports On Helicopter Entering Uzbek Airspace

Kyrgyzstan -- Map of the Uzbek exclave of SOKH in Kyrgyzstan
BISHKEK -- Kyrgyzstan's State Border Guard Service has rejected media reports that a Kyrgyz helicopter illegally entered the airspace of neighboring Uzbekistan earlier this month.

In a press release on January 23, the Border Guard Service said that on January 15 a Kyrgyz helicopter delivered humanitarian aid to the residents of a Kyrgyz village near the Uzbek district of Sokh, which is surrounded by Kyrgyzstan's southern province of Batken.

It said the helicopter never left Kyrgyz air space.

Border checkpoints around Sokh have been closed since Sokh residents, mainly ethnic Tajiks, clashed on January 5-6 with Kyrgyz border guards over installation of electric power lines to a new Kyrgyz border post.

Five Sokh residents were reportedly wounded by Kyrgyz border guards.

About 30 Kyrgyz citizens were taken hostage and later released.
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