By Biodun Busari
More than 80 people have lost their lives as two former Soviet republics – Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan clashed over border disputes that started on Friday.
The clash that began earlier last week grew into a full-blown crisis on Friday which had led to nothing less than 87 people wounded and mass evacuation of those living around border areas.
According to reports, this has degenerated into using of tanks, artillery and rocket launchers and shelling, in which Tajik forces struck the Kyrgyzstan regional capital, Batken, with rockets.
Kyrgyzstan’s emergencies ministry said 136,000 people were displaced from the area engulfed by the fighting.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the war on the tense border between the two Central Asian neighbours but an effort to initiate a ceasefire was futile.
In a statement on Friday, the Kyrgyz border service said its forces were continuing to repel Tajik attacks.
“From the Tajik side, shelling of the positions of the Kyrgyz side continues, and in some areas, intense battles are going on,” it said.
A Tajikistan government news portal, citing its border guard service, said Kyrgyz forces were reinforcing their positions and had opened fire on three border villages.
According to AFP, while Tajikistan has lost 35 persons, Kyrgyzstan counted 46 fatalities as at the time of filing this report on Sunday.
The crisis was reportedly the worst that had claimed lives from both countries since they disintegrated from the Soviet Union in 1991.
“Tajikistan said that 35 of its citizens including civilians, women, and children were killed in the latest border clashes with Kyrgyzstan.
“Meanwhile the death on the Kyrgyz side rose to 46, making it the worst flare-up between the two Central Asian countries in years,” AFP said.