A new incident near a disputed segment of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border has increased tension in the volatile area.
Kyrgyzstan’s State Border Service said on April 23 that a day earlier, a Tajik man in the village of Tojikon forcibly took an eight-year-old Kyrgyz boy from the adjacent Kyrgyz village of Ak-Sai into Tajik territory.
According to Kyrgyz officials, the boy was returned to Kyrgyz authorities in 30 minutes and at least 50 local Kyrgyz men and women demonstrated in Ak-Sai to voice anger over the incident.
The chief of Tojikon, Gafurjon Juraev, told RFE/RL that the incident was the result of a new standoff between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Tajiks living close to the disputed part of the border.
According to Juraev, residents of the Kyrgyz village blocked a road crossing the area and vandalized several Tajik vehicles, while Tajik men broke a window of a car with a Kyrgyz license plate.
"Tajik authorities detained three Tajik men, but nobody detained the Kyrgyz men who attacked Tajik cars," Juraev said.
The man who took the Kyrgyz boy to the Tajik side of the border told RFE/RL that he did so because the boy "broke a window of a Tajik excavator."
The incident occurred weeks after two Tajik men were shot dead and several were injured in clashes between Kyrgyz and Tajiks after Kyrgyzstan restarted construction work on a controversial road.
Kyrgyzstan has been attempting to build a new stretch of road in the area for years, stopping and restarting construction work repeatedly while negotiators from the two countries try to reach a formal border delineation agreement.
Tajikistan insists the proposed path of the road cuts through disputed territory, and that the road should not be built until a deal is reached on the exact location of the border.
Many border areas in Central Asian former Soviet republics have been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan meet.
Almost half of the 976-kilometer border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan remains undelineated.