Injuries on both sides of the northern Tajik- southern Kyrgyz border in late January left two civilians dead and an estimated 10 injured, four of whom are civilians, according to Tajikistan’s national security committee.
The skirmishes broke out at a key flashpoint along the contested border in Kyrgyzstan’s Batken province where communities often clash over land and water supplies. Border guards are often involved.
This escalation was the most serious since May 2021 when over 50 people on both sides of the border died and over 150 were reported to have been injured in unprecedented violence. It was reported that at on the Kyrgyz side, at least one border post and several houses were destroyed; the Tajiks reported damage to a bridge.
That incident arose over the “ownership” of the reservoir and pumping station at the Isfara River and the installation of surveillance equipment that has since been removed. At the time a “complete ceasefire” was declared.
In January, an estimated 1,500 people were evacuated from nearby villages at the intersection of Sughd province and Kyrgyzstan’s southwestern Batken province.
A total ceasefire has since been agreed, including a withdrawal of forces. Both sides have agreed to coordinate border patrols to ensure the safe passage of traffic along the strategic road between both countries.
The situation is considered to have been stabilized but a full investigation of the event by a joint commission will be conducted.
The Kyrgz / Tajik border is 600 miles long and much of it has been disputed since the collapse of the Soviet regime. The hard, sometimes seemingly arbitrary border between the two countries is often disputed. The border is meandering and both sides claim the territory where recent fighting has occurred. There are multiple and large ethnic enclaves on either side of the border and access restrictions have contributed to the tension along the border.
Restrictions on access to land and water resources in the fertile Fergana Valley often lead to deadly clashes among the three countries adjacent to the valley (Kyrgyzstan, Takjistan, and Uzbekistan).