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Tajik Border Guard Wounded In Latest Shoot-Out Along Border With Kyrgyzstan

A village in Tajikistan's Chorkuh district.
A village in Tajikistan's Chorkuh district.

CHORKUH, Tajikistan -- A Tajik border guard was wounded in a shoot-out in an area close to a disputed segment of the Tajik-Kyrgyz border over the weekend, the latest flareup of violence in the volatile region.

Officials of Tajikistan's Chorkuh district told RFE/RL that 19-year-old Private Shuhrat Qurbonov was hospitalized with gunshot wounds after the shoot-outs erupted early in the morning on July 24.

According to the officials, tensions escalated after residents of the Tajik districts started cleaning an area near the border that Kyrgyzstan considers as undefined.

After residents of a Kyrgyz village and representatives of Kyrgyzstan's local authorities confronted the Tajiks, questioning the legality of their activities to clean the area, the sides started throwing stones at each other. The battle escalated to the point where shoot-outs between border guards of the two Central Asian nations erupted.

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Officials in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken region confirmed that the shoot-out on July 24 started after the confrontation between residents of local Kyrgyz and Tajik villages over the activities of the Tajik side to clean the area.

Both sides said that talks regarding the situation were under way over the weekend between Tajik and Kyrgyz officials.

The incident took place less than three weeks after one Kyrgyz border guard was killed and another wounded in a similar skirmish between the two former Soviet republics.

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Almost half of the 970-kilometer-long Kyrgyz-Tajik border has not been demarcated, leading to repeated tensions since the two countries gained independence three decades ago.

In late April, clashes that involved military personnel along another disputed segment of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border left dozens of people killed on both sides.

Many border areas in Central Asia have been disputed since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.

The situation is particularly complicated near the numerous exclaves in the volatile Ferghana Valley, where the borders of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan meet.