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Second Tajik Villager Killed In Dispute Over Road Near Kyrgyz Border


Deadly Clashes Hit Kyrgyz-Tajik Border
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Deadly violence has broken out for a second consecutive day along a disputed section of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border after Kyrgyzstan restarted construction work on a controversial road in the area.

An official in Tajikistan's Interior Ministry told RFE/RL that one villager from Tajikistan's Vorukh exclave in the Ferghana Valley was killed by gunfire on March 14 and two other Tajik villagers were hospitalized with gunshot wounds.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan's Health Ministry says a Kyrgyz police officer was wounded by gunfire that was exchanged during the March 14 incident.

Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov's press service says Jeenbekov and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon agreed during a March 14 phone conversation to push forward with talks on delineating their disputed borders and to launch a joint investigation into the shootings.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev and his Tajik counterpart Kohir Rasulzoda also discussed the border tensions in a separate phone call on March 14, the Kyrgyz government's press service announced.

The violence came a day after a Tajik villager was shot dead at the same location during a clash between residents of the Kyrgyz village of Ak-Sai and the Tajik village of Mehnatobod.

The villager slain on March 14 was named by Tajik officials as 37-year-old Rafouddin Teshaev.

The main directorate of the Tajik Border Guards said 43-year-old Tajik villager Husein Hakimov was shot dead on March 13 in a clash that left 11 other Tajik citizens hospitalized.

It said the March 13 clash began when dozens of Kyrgyz and Tajik villagers confronted and threw stones at each other near the construction site.

Tajik authorities said violence escalated quickly and gunshots were fired after a storage shed of a Kyrgyz villager and a flour mill belonging to a Tajik villager were set ablaze.

Kyrgyzstan said one Kyrgyz villager from Ak-Sai was hospitalized on March 13.

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.

Officials from both countries said that construction work on the road had, once again, been halted while negotiators discuss the situation.

Meanwhile, Kyrgyzstan's parliament on March 14 announced it was launching an official hearing on "the situation along the Kyrgyz-Tajik 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.