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Uzbek Border Guards Kill Kyrgyz Man

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz officials say Uzbek border guards have shot dead a Kyrgyz national and detained another near the border between the two Central Asian nations.

Kyrgyz State Border Guard Service spokeswoman Gulmira Borubaeva told RFE/RL that the incident occurred on May 12 in Kyrgyzstan’s southern Batken region.

Preliminary information indicates that three Kyrgyz citizens tried to transport agricultural goods from Uzbekistan's Sokh district, an exclave surrounded by Kyrgyz territory, when Uzbek border guards ordered them to stop.

After their order was allegedly ignored, the border guards opened fire, killing one of the men.

Uzbek border guards detained another man inside the Sokh exclave, which is mainly populated by ethnic Tajiks. The third Kyrgyz man managed to flee the scene and is currently in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz and Uzbek border officials in Sokh have discussed the situation.

Uzbek officials told Interfax that a 22-year-old Kyrgyz citizen, identified as Mansur Makhmudjon Uulu, was killed by Uzbek border guards while trying to smuggle 10 tons of potatoes and 5 tons of dried apricots from Uzbek territory into Kyrgyzstan.

Shootings are relatively common in areas close to the Uzbek and Tajik exclaves inside Kyrgyzstan's Batken region.

In 2013, border crossings through Sokh were closed for several weeks after Sokh residents clashed with Kyrgyz border guards over the installation of electric power lines to a new Kyrgyz border post.

Five Sokh residents were reportedly wounded by Kyrgyz border guards and at least 30 Kyrgyz citizens were subsequently taken hostage.

In 2014, construction on a Kyrgyz highway project bypassing Tajikistan's Vorukh exclave in Batken sparked a shooting incident in which several Kyrgyz and Tajik border guards were injured.

The incident led to blockage of all roads connecting Vorukh, which is entirely surrounded by Kyrgyz territory, with Tajikistan's Isfara district.

The Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Tajik borders meet in in the restive Ferghana Valley.

Large portions of the borders between Central Asian states have been under dispute since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

With reporting by Interfax