A shootout broke out Thursday between Kyrgyz border guards and their Tajik colleagues, with Tajikistan accusing Kyrgyz soldiers of trying to enter its soil to steal horses. According to the Tajik State Committee for National Security, four Kyrgyz border guards illegally crossed the border between these two mountainous Central Asian countries on Thursday, which are disputing large portions of territory.
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“The intruders wore military and civilian clothes, had Kalashnikovs and intended to steal nine horses”, said the State Committee in a statement sent to the Tajik state news agency, Khovar. “In response to a warning from the Tajik border guards (…), the Kyrgyz soldiers opened fire. Two of the intruders were injured by retaliatory fire ”, specifies the service of the Tajik border guards. The shooting took place around 3:00 p.m. (09:00 GMT) in the Rosrovout region (northern Tajikistan).
Kyrgyzstan confirmed the shooting but gave a totally different version of it. According to a statement from the Kyrgyz border guard service, “A unit of border guards on horseback was in service” when she was taken to task. “The unit was suddenly attacked by Tajik border guards”, specifies this service which adds that “Information on victims is being clarified”. In April, fighting on the border between the two countries left more than 50 dead, prompting a major military mobilization.
Large portions of borders have not been demarcated in Central Asia since the breakup of the USSR, causing ethnic tensions accentuated by a struggle for resources. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are particularly concerned: they have a common border of almost 1000 km with a tortuous route comprising several enclaves and only 504 km have been delimited to date.