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Kyrgyz, Uzbeks To Jointly Investigate Sokh Hostage Crisis

Residents and police gather in Uzbekistan's Sokh exclave on January 6.
BATKEN, Kyrgyzstan -- Kyrgyz and Uzbek authorities have agreed to conduct a joint investigation into this week's hostage-taking incident in Uzbekistan's Sokh district.

The agreement was reached late on January 7 at talks held in Sokh between Uzbek and Kyrgyz border officials.

Local authorities from Kyrgyzstan's Batken province and Uzbekistan's Ferghana region also took part.

Sokh residents and Kyrgyz border guards clashed on January 6 during the installation of power lines to a Kyrgyz border post. At least three Uzbek citizens reportedly sustained gunshot wounds and a Kyrgyz policeman was severely beaten.

Thirty Kyrgyz citizens were subsequently taken hostage in Sokh, all of whom were released on January 7. Seven of the hostages remain in hospitals with injuries.

The region's border posts remain closed.

Sokh is Uzbek territory inside Kyrgyzstan's southern region of Batken that is mainly populated by ethnic Tajiks.