Tajikistan says 2 dead after clashes with Kyrgyzstan

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BISHKEK (AFP) - Tajikistan said on Friday (Jan 28) that two of its citizens were killed and 10 injured during overnight clashes at its contested border with Kyrgyzstan, where a ceasefire is now in place.

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan said they reached a ceasefire early on Friday following the latest lethal flare up at the pair's contested border.

The violence that broke out on Thursday evening was the bloodiest escalation between the countries since clashes that killed dozens last year.

The Kyrgyz and Tajik frontier communities regularly clash over land and water supplies, with border guards often involved.

As a result of the latest conflict, "10 people were injured on the Tajik side, of which six were servicemen and four were civilians," Tajikistan's national security committee said in a statement.

Tajikistan added that the two dead were a man born in 1986 "killed by a mortar shell fired by Kyrgyz soldiers into his yard" and an ambulance driver born in 1964.

Following the overnight clashes, Kyrgyzstan's national security committee said on Friday that it had reached an agreement for "a complete ceasefire" with Tajikistan during a meeting at the border between provincial governors and border service representatives.

The neighbours also agreed to withdraw forces, coordinate patrols of the frontier and ensure the flow of traffic along a strategic road that passes between both countries.

Tajikistan confirmed the agreement several hours later.

"At present, the situation on the state border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan is stable, the causes and factors of the border conflict are being studied by a joint commission of the relevant structures of both parties," a statement from the Tajik national security committee said.

Asia Plus, a private Tajik news agency, reported that as many as 17 Tajiks had been injured.

Kyrgyzstan's health ministry said on Friday that at least eleven of its citizens were being treated for moderately serious injuries.

Close to 1,500 Kyrgyz citizens were evacuated from villages near where the conflict took place at the intersection of Sughd province and Kyrgyzstan's southwestern Batken province, the emergencies ministry said.

Last year's violence between the two militaries was unprecedented, leaving more than 50 people dead and raising fears of a wider conflict.

Almost half of the pair's 970km-long border is disputed and progress on delimitation in recent years has been glacial.

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