Road in Kyrgyz, Tajik border districts reopens to traffic
BISHKEK/OSH. July 25 (Interfax) - Vehicle traffic has been restored on highways in Kyrgyzstan's southern Batken region that link Batken and Tajikistan's Isfara and Isfara and the Tajik enclave of Vorukh in Kyrgyz territory after it was suspended on July 22 due to a conflict between residents of Kyrgyz and Tajik border villages, spokesperson for the Kyrgyz State Border Service Gulmira Borubayeva told Interfax on Thursday.
"The Batken-Isfara and Isfara-Vorukh roads reopened to traffic on July 25. The situation at the Kyrgyz-Tajik section of the state border is assessed as relatively stable," Borubayeva said.
The Batken-Isfara highway is part of a transport corridor linking Osh in Kyrgyzstan to Isfara and lies across the territory of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan due to a challenging terrain. Its temporary closure on July 22 cut off the Leilek district in Kyrgyzstan's Batken region. The Isfara-Vorukh road leads to the Tajik enclave located in Kyrgyz territory.
"State Border Service units stationed in the Batken region remain on high alert," she said.
"Border guard units of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are jointly patrolling this section of the state border," Borubayeva said.
The two countries' border guards and local authorities are together working with the Kyrgyz and Tajik population of border districts to avert an escalation of the conflict and settle the situation, she said.
According to information from Kyrgyz sources, at 5:20 p.m. local time (2:20 p.m. Moscow time) on July 22 residents of the Tajik village erected their flagpole at the entry to the village in an undelimited section of the state order. Residents of the Kyrgyz border village of Aksai, in turn, opposed this step, leading to a verbal argument between residents of the two villages during which one of the sides opened fire.
According to the Kyrgyz State Border Service, a hunting rifle was fired by civilians and 17 Kyrgyz citizens were injured as a result of the conflict.
The Kyrgyz-Tajik border section where the latest incident occurred has not yet been delimited and has high conflict potential. Since the beginning of the year, several conflicts between residents of Vorukh and Aksai villages have taken place in the area, during which local roads were blocked.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan share a 971-kilometer border. The countries first opened border delimitation talks in the early 1990s, then suspended them, resuming them only two years ago. They have already delimited 583 kilometers.
According to Tajik media, Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov and Tajik President Emomali Rahmon are expected to meet in Vorukh on July 26 to discuss border issues.