BISHKEK/DUSHANBE (Reuters) - Three Kyrgyz border guards and two Tajik citizens were wounded in a shootout on Friday in a disputed border area between the two former Soviet republic, authorities on both sides said, blaming each other for the violence.
Border conflicts are frequent in the area which is part of the fertile Ferghana valley, a patchwork of Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek villages with numerous enclaves and disputed border lines.
The clash first broke out between the residents of Kyrgyzstan’s southwestern Batken province and the dwellers of Tajikistan’s northernmost Sughd province, with dozens of people on each side hurling rocks at each other, the Kyrgyz side said.
One of the people involved in the fight then used a rifle; Tajik border guards then shelled their Kyrgyz counterparts with mortars, wounding three servicemen, Kyrgyzstan’s border guard service said in a statement.
Tajik border guards, in turn, accused Kyrgyz ones of opening fire at two Tajik civilians. Both sides said the hostilities have ceased and negotiations were under way.
Reporting by Olga Dzyubenko in Bishkek and Nazarali Pirnazarov in Dushanbe; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov, editing by Louise Heavens