Friday, March 15, 2019

Conflict on Kyrgyz-Tajik Border Escalates from Stone Throwing to Use of Lethal Force

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 14 – The border between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, one that has been only partially demarcated and that includes exclaves of one in the other, has often been the site of clashes between the people living along it. But this week one of those has escalated from stone throwing to the use of lethal force that has cost the lives of at least two Tajiks.

            On Wednesday, Kyrgyz workers attempted to work on a road bisecting the Tajik exclave of Barukh in Kyrgystan.  That led local Tajiks to throw rocks at the workers, the workers responded, and the situation escalated to the point that Kyrgyz border units fired on the Tajiks killing at least two of them ( and

            Tajik border guards then intervened and appear to have opened fire as well before more senior officials and finally the presidents of the two countries spoke and ordered both sides to stand down ( and  

The presidents agreed to establish a binational commission to take up the grievances of both sides and to push for the delimitation and demarcation of the border in a way both nations could agree on. To that end, they established a bi-national commission which has already held its first meeting (

In yet another indication of how much both sides desire to avoid any further escalation, Bishkek shifted residents of two Kyrgyz villages, Ak-Sai and Kok-Tash, into the regional capital of Batken lest their presence exacerbate the border conflict (  

One reason that the presidents of the two Central Asian countries have moved quickly to quash this conflict is that some in Moscow are already advocating that the Russian government use this clash as the basis for intervening in the two former republics, possibly beyond what either Bishkek or Dushanbe would want (

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