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Uzbek Border Guards Detain 13 Kyrgyz Citizens In Ferghana Valley

Border disputes plague many populated areas in the Ferghana Valley. (file photo)

BATKEN, Kyrgyzstan -- Uzbek border guards have detained 13 Kyrgyz citizens in the southern region of Batken near the border with Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyzstan's State Border Guarding Service says the residents of the village of Chekelik in the Ferghana valley were detained on February 19 after they "accidentally entered Uzbek territory."

"The identities of the Kyrgyz nationals detained by Uzbek border guards are being established at this moment and negotiations on their release are under way," the State Border Guard's department in the Batken region said.

Three countries sharing the Ferghana Valley -- Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan -- inherited unclear borders after their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Many populated areas remain in dispute

The Kyrgyz-border segment near Chekelik is not among the disputed ones, but many local citizens continue to cross the border without official permission.

Last month, Kyrgyz officials had to evacuate more than 250 residents from a village in the Batken region after Kyrgyz and Tajik villagers clashed near a disputed segment of the Kyrgyz-Tajik border.

In December, six Kyrgyz nationals and three Tajik nationals were wounded in clashes in the area, while violence in September claimed four lives.