19 Mar 2019 09:52

Kyrgyz-Tajik investigative group starts probing border incidents

BISHKEK. March 19 (Interfax) - A joint investigative group set up by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan has opened seven criminal cases in the wake of the recent incidents on the Kyrgyz-Tajik border, including on murder and mass unrest charges, the press service of the Kyrgyz Prosecutor General's Office told Interfax on Tuesday.

"Seven pre-trial investigations have been launched on charges of attempted murder, murder, robbery and mass disturbances," the press service said.

The coordinators of the interstate investigation group are the Prosecutor General's Offices of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, it said.

Three Kyrgyz citizens, including a police officer, sustained gunshot wounds in clashes between Kyrgyz and Tajik citizens in the two countries' border villages on March 13-14. The conflict occurred as a result of Kyrgyzstan's construction of a road connecting Aksai and Tamdyk.

According to the Kyrgyz Health Ministry, the three wounded were taken to the Batken region's hospital and operated on. One is in intensive care in a serious condition.

The press service of the border guard forces of Tajikistan's State National Security Committee said that one Tajik citizen had been killed and several others wounded in the Wednesday incident.

Media reported on March 14, citing local residents, that another citizen of Tajikistan had been killed and two more wounded by gunfire in the Tajik exclave of Vorukh, located in Kyrgyzstan's Batken region.

The presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Sooronbai Jeenbekov and Emomali Rahmon, discussed the border situation over the phone on Thursday.

The sides noted the need to set up a joint commission to hold an unbiased inquiry for preventing similar situations in the future, as well as for boosting talks on the delimitation of the state border.

During the talks between Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Zhenish Razakov and Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Azim Ibrohim, the parties made a decision to create joint groups of investigators composed of officals from the two countries' Prosecutor General's Offices and Interior Ministries in order to determine the causes of the conflict and the culprits of the incident.

On March 14, the Kyrgyz authorities decided to evacuate residents of the villages of Ak-Sai and Kok-Tash of the Batken region of Kyrgyzstan to a regional center.

According to the Red Crescent, 453 residents of the village of Ak-Sai, comprising 156 women and 285 children, were evacuated from the locality where the conflict occurred. The humanitarian organization also provided bread and hot meals to 130 citizens.

The Tash-Tushmuk area of the Batken region, where the conflict broke out on March 13, borders the Tajik Vorukh exclave in Kyrgyzstan.

Tash-Tushmuk is a non-delimited border sector, which has rugged relief and homes laid out in a checkerboard fashion.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan share a border of 971 kilometers, 583 of which have been delimited, while the rest were due to be delimited starting in 2019.